After being upset in its first game of the tournament by San Diego State, the seventh-seeded Gaucho women’s water polo team defeated San Jose and Arizona State over the weekend en route to a ninth place finish in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament and an overall record of 17-12.
Thursday’s heartbreaking loss to #10 seed San Diego derailed UCSB’s hopes of finishing in the top half of the tournament. The loss left the Gauchos with the prospect of having their best possible finish be ninth place – disappointing considering UCSB currently ranks #6 in the nation.
“We were really disappointed with the loss [to San Diego State],” said junior utility Jennifer D’Anna, who scored four goals in the tournament. “We didn’t think we played good at all and I think it shows a lot about this team to come out and win these last two games.”
Saturday’s matchup against San Jose took the Gauchos into the ninth-place game against Arizona State. The #11 seed Spartans also dropped their first game of the tournament, losing to home favorite Cal. UCSB had already defeated San Jose State twice this season with both games decided by one goal.
The teams played an even first half, with each team allowing one goal per quarter. After a 2-2 tie going into halftime, the Gauchos pulled ahead with a pair of goals in the third quarter. San Jose State fought back in the fourth and at the end of regulation the teams were tied at 5-5. After an even first-overtime period, the Gauchos took a 7-6 lead in the second-overtime period and held the Spartans scoreless in the final three minutes to come away with the victory.
“It was a really important win for us,” D’Anna said. “We always seem to have close games with them; some wins, some losses – but to come out and win this one really shows we could beat them when it counts.”
UCSB came out scorching with three goals early on against #12 seed Arizona State in the first quarter to take a comfortable 4-1 lead into halftime. The Sun Devils got their offense rolling in the second half scoring two goals in the third, but UCSB continued to have the answer as the Gauchos scored two goals of their own in the period. Despite being outscored 2-1 in the final quarter, Santa Barbara was able to come away with a 7-5 win and the ninth-place overall finish.