After finishing 10th in the Gaucho Invitational last weekend, which hosted the top 16 teams in the nation, the UCSB women’s water polo team moved up to #11 in the nation. This weekend, the Gauchos play twice at home, setting their sights on #6-ranked Cal on Saturday at 3 p.m. and Pacific at noon on Sunday.
“I think we can capitalize on [Cal’s] mistakes and show them that, even though we’re the underdogs, we can come out on top,” freshman defender Amanda Tipton said.
The Bears defeated UCSB 11-6 last weekend in its first game of the tournament. The Gauchos bounced back, however, going 2-2, with wins over #9 UC San Diego and #7 Long Beach State.
The Gauchos (7-8 overall) have faced a tough schedule, sprinting with ranked opponents in 11 of the 14 games they have played this season.
“Every single game, we are showing improvement and that’s a really good thing at this point in the season,” Head Coach Danielle Altman said.
According to Altman, Cal’s strengths come by way of a strong offensive scheme. This in mind, the Gauchos will have to utilize their stringent defense in order to stop a physical Cal team marked by strong shooters and a fast-paced counter-attack.
Tipton has contributed both offensively and defensively this season for UCSB, especially in last weekend’s matchups with some of the best teams in the country. According to Altman, Tipton is one of the best shooters on the team and also plays well on the defensive side.
“Amanda Tipton had just overall a really strong tournament,” Altman said. “She needs to put the ball in the goal. That is going to be a huge key going against a team like Cal.”
After facing Cal, on Sunday the Gauchos will sprint with unranked Pacific. The Tigers are a relatively young team with a new coach and are carrying just two seniors on their small 12-player roster.
“I think we are going to stick to our own game plan and not sink to their level,” Tipton said. “From the beginning we need to shut them down and never look back.”