The UCSB women’s water polo team played two conference games this weekend and came away with two very different results.
The #10 Gauchos (4-3 overall, 1-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) got their first home win of the season Saturday, defeating #7 San Diego State (2-4 overall, 0-2 in the MPSF) 7-2 at Campus Pool. The final outcome wasn’t nearly as positive the next day, as top-ranked UCLA (8-0 overall, 1-0 in the MPSF) demolished the Gauchos 13-4.
Strong team defense was the key to UCSB’s Saturday victory, as Santa Barbara held the Aztecs to only two goals. San Diego State scored its first goal less than a minute into the game, but was held in check from then on, not scoring again until only four seconds remained in the game.
“Our team defense was outstanding. This was by far our best defensive game so far,” UCSB Head Coach Danielle Altman said. “We started things off on defense and let the offense take care of itself.”
The offense did take care of itself, as the Gauchos scored seven consecutive goals to put the game away. Six different Gauchos found the back of the net, led by sophomore Aimee Stachowski’s two goals. Thirty seconds into the second quarter, Stachowski came up with a steal and passed the ball off to sophomore Sarah Kovach, who tied the game at one. Later in the quarter, with the Aztecs down one player following an ejection, Stachowski scored her first goal of the game to give the Gauchos the lead.
With the lead on their side, 13 team steals and seven saves by junior goalie Christy Medigovich ensured the Gauchos their first conference victory of the year.
“It was huge because it was a conference game,” Altman said. “It’s important just to get the win.”
Santa Barbara’s MPSF record took a hit Sunday at the hands of undefeated UCLA. The Bruins jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never looked back, as they cruised to their eighth consecutive victory. Four different players scored two goals apiece to lead the UCLA scoring attack, in a performance that showed why the Bruins have yet to lose a game this year.
“They’re #1 for a reason,” Altman said.
Senior captain Katy Kunkel led the Gauchos with two goals, matching the combined total of her sisters Kacy and Kristina, who both play for UCLA. Senior Mica Bell and freshman Dana Saign also scored for the Gauchos.
UCSB will not play another game until this weekend, when it hosts the UCSB Invitational. San Diego State and UCLA are among the teams scheduled to participate.