For the second time this year, the UCSB women’s water polo team was unable to keep up with defending national champion USC.
The Gauchos (13-11 overall, 4-7 in the MPSF) kept things close throughout the first half, but the Trojans (20-3 overall, 10-1 MPSF) broke the game wide open by scoring five goals in the third quarter to pull away for an 11-5 victory.
“We can match up with them talent-wise, we just can’t put four good quarters together,” Head Coach Danielle Altman said.
The game was tied at the end of the first quarter, but USC took a 4-2 lead into halftime. A variety of Trojans came out firing in the third quarter – five USC players found the back of the net. Freshman Dana Saign scored two late goals for the Gauchos, but it wasn’t enough to keep UCSB from dropping its third consecutive game.
Saign was a consistent threat throughout the game, scoring a goal in each of the four quarters and leading all scorers with four goals. Saign, who redshirted last year, has now scored eight goals in the last three games.
“Dana played an excellent game and it was fun to watch,” Altman said. “She understands that she has a good shot and she’s starting to pick and choose her spots to get that shot off.”
The Gauchos’ other goal came in the third quarter when sophomore Aimee Stachowski scored following a pass from sophomore ZiZi Clark.
The Trojans showed off their impressive depth, with nine players tallying a goal on the day. USC was led by juniors Lauren Wenger and Anna Pardo, who each scored two goals.
“They have a lot of depth and we don’t. It’s hard to hang with them for four quarters,” Altman said.
UCSB will try to end the losing streak on Friday when it hosts Long Beach in the final conference game of the year. The Gauchos will close out the regular season Saturday when they host Loyola Marymount. Next weekend’s games will give the Gauchos a chance to prepare for the following weekend’s MPSF Tournament.
“If we get a couple of wins next weekend, we should set ourselves up nicely for MPSF,” Altman said.