The #10 UCSB women’s water polo team wrapped up its roller-coaster seven-game road trip in appropriate dramatic fashion with a heartbreaking double-overtime loss.
“I think [the loss] will really help us in the long run because we played a good game against them and they are a great team,” junior utility Jennifer D’Anna said. “We made a big effort to come back, and even though it didn’t work out for us at the end, it proved to us that we could compete with them.”
The Gauchos (13-9 overall, 4-5 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) followed up a comfortable 9-6 win over Pacific with an excruciating 9-10 double-overtime loss to #7 Cal. Santa Barbara finished the trip with a 3-4 record, with three losses coming in overtime and six of the seven games decided by one goal.
On Saturday the Gauchos traveled to Stockton, where they faced unranked Pacific (10-13 overall, 2-8 in the MPSF), which was looking to rebound from a 14-2 loss to #3 Stanford. The Gauchos were able to turn up the heat offensively on Pacific as goals by D’Anna and fellow junior utility Alaina Whitaker gave UCSB a 5-4 lead at halftime. The second half was all Santa Barbara as D’Anna netted her third goal of the game, while Whitaker and senior 2-meter defender Katy Kunkel scored their second, allowing the Gauchos to cruise past the Tigers.
“It was really important to come out strong [against Pacific] because of last week’s loss to Arizona State,” D’Anna said. “We all needed that win to really build up our confidence again.”
Sunday’s matchup against Cal proved to be much more competitive. The Bears jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, and after a goal by freshman driver Dana Saign, the Gauchos went into the second period down 1-3. Two late goals in the second stanza brought Santa Barbara to within one goal at 4-5 going into halftime. UCSB trailed 5-7 going into the fourth but responded with four goals in the final session, forcing overtime.
The teams played a scoreless first overtime period, but in the second overtime period, Cal’s Lauren McGee converted on her only shot of the game with 2:33 remaining, giving the Bears a 10-9 win and sending the Gauchos home with another disappointing overtime loss on the trip.