The Santa Barbara women’s water polo team (14-14, 4-7 in the MPSF) was looking for a strong finish to the regular season in preparation for this week’s Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship Tournament, and a strong finish is exactly what they got.
Saturday, the Gauchos traveled to Long Beach State and accomplished a 6-5 overtime upset of the #4 ranked 49ers.
In what turned out to be a close game, Long Beach State took an early 2-0 lead on goals from junior Roberta Stewart and sophomore Cassie Azevedo. UCSB quickly tied the game up, with consecutive goals from junior Katy Kunkel and sophomore Erika Clark in the last two minutes of the first quarter.
With a goal apiece in the second quarter, the game remained tied at halftime. Senior Angelica Garcia scored the go-ahead goal for Long Beach State late in the third quarter, giving the 49ers the 4-3 lead going into the final quarter of regulation play.
In the fourth, two more Gaucho goals, including Kunkel’s second of the game, gave UCSB a 5-4 lead. However, with 2:55 to go, Azevedo matched Kunkel, putting in her second goal of the day, forcing overtime. With 1:33 remaining in the first and only overtime, Gaucho leading scorer, sophomore Jennifer D’Anna, tossed in the game-winner to give UCSB the win, 6-5.
UCSB passed Irvine in the MPSF standings with their 5-4 victory over the Anteaters Friday. Kunkel netted two goals to lead the Gauchos to their second road win of the season. Junior Mica Bell, freshman ZiZi Clark and Kunkel scored in the first half to give UCSB the 3-2 lead at halftime.
The two teams traded goals in the third period. Kunkel put the first in for the Gauchos in the second half, only to be matched by UC Irvine freshman Robyn Kaake. UCSB sophomore Alaina Whitaker scored her 19th goal of the season in the third quarter, giving the Gauchos a two-goal lead, 5-3. However, the Anteaters scored again before the quarter expired, cutting the lead back to one.
From there, the UCSB defense, led by sophomore goalie Christy Medigovich, held off Irvine for the final quarter to finish with a 5-4 victory. Kaake’s team leading 39th and 40th goals of the season were not enough to get the Anteaters the victory.
UCSB will travel to the MPSF Championships April 30 through May 2 at Los Alamitos Naval Training Base.