After seven consecutive road games, the UCSB women’s water polo team was unable to come away with a win in its first game at Campus Pool in five weeks.
The #9 Gauchos (13-10 overall, 4-6 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) could not overcome an early three-goal deficit, eventually losing to #4 Hawaii (13-6 overall, 8-2 MPSF) by a score of 8-4.
The Rainbow Wahine came out firing from outside, scoring three goals in the first six minutes of play. The combination of several turnovers and strong play by Hawaii goalie Meike De Nooy kept the Gauchos from getting anything going offensively.
“We didn’t do what we needed to do. We turned the ball over way too much and let them have too many easy outside shots,” Head Coach Danielle Altman said. “We didn’t play up to our potential and that showed in the final score.”
The Gauchos got on the board early in the second quarter when junior Jennifer D’Anna tipped the ball into the goal after a long cross-pool pass from sophomore ZiZi Clark. The comeback attempt proved to be short-lived as Hawaii sophomore Anna Sieprath scored her second goal of the game to give Hawaii a 4-1 lead at halftime.
Midway through the third quarter, the Gauchos cut the lead to 4-2 when a desperation shot by senior Nicola Bishop found its way to the back of the net. With the shot clock running down, Bishop’s shot from near midpool bounced off a Hawaii defender’s hand and skipped past De Nooy. However, Hawaii responded quickly, scoring three consecutive goals to put the game out of reach.
The game took an ugly turn late in the second half when Hawaii Head Coach Michel Roy subtly flipped off a member of the raucous Gauchos cheering section. Despite their support, the home crowd was unable to keep UCSB from losing to Hawaii for the second time this year.
“It’s nice to be home, and we should have a home-pool advantage, but against the #4 team in the country it doesn’t end up mattering as much,” Altman said.
The schedule does not get any easier Saturday. The Gauchos will host defending national champion #2 USC, a team that defeated UCSB 11-5 earlier this year en route to a second place finish in the Gaucho Invitational.
Saturday’s game will begin at noon at Campus Pool.