Santa Barbara’s women’s water polo team left everything in the pool this weekend at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship tournament. The Gauchos closed out their season with a 2-2 record in the tournament, finishing in seventh place.
Friday, UCSB kicked things off with a 10-9 win over San Jose State in the first round. For the second straight year, the Gauchos knocked the Spartans out of championship contention with a hard fought upset win.
UCSB needed five consecutive goals in the second half to take the lead over the Spartans. Freshman 2-meter Aimee Stachowski put in the seventh Gaucho goal and put UCSB up for good in the third quarter. UCSB built a 9-6 lead but had to hold off the Spartans late in the game to get the victory.
Stachowski, freshman utility ZiZi Clark, and a duo of sophomore utility players, Alaina Whitaker and Jennifer D’Anna, each scored two goals in the game. San Jose State’s leading scorer, junior 2-meter Laura Scott, netted three goals to lead the Spartans.
For the Gauchos, the first round victory meant a Friday afternoon matchup with #1 USC. The Trojans entered the game with a 24-game winning streak on the line and were able to get the best of UCSB with a 9-5 win.
Although Gaucho junior utility Katy Kunkel scored just 15 seconds into the game, USC put five unanswered goals in the back of the net to finish the first half with a 5-1 lead.
Once again, UCSB made a comeback in the second half, scoring three straight goals in the third quarter after trailing 7-2. With five minutes remaining in the game, junior driver Nicola Bishop scored to cut the deficit to 7-5. From there, however, USC’s defense held UCSB scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Trojan freshman utility Brittany Hayes scored three goals to lead USC to the win. Sophomore goalie Christy Medigovich anchored the Gaucho defense for the second straight game, posting seven saves in the losing effort.
Saturday, UCSB was defeated by San Diego State 11-3 in the match to determine which team would play for fifth place in the tournament.
UCSB rolled through University of Hawaii on Sunday to earn seventh place in the tournament. The Gauchos built a 7-1 lead in the first half and never looked back. Kunkel and D’Anna both scored four goals for UCSB in the season-ending victory. The Gauchos finish at .500 with a 16-16 overall record.
UCSB will lose only one senior, goalie Erin Enriquez, this season and will be looking to build with their young team. The Gauchos will look for leadership next year from D’Anna and Kunkel, this season’s leading scorers with 42 and 29 goals, respectively.