The #10 UCSB women’s water polo team kicked off its 2006 season with two wins and one loss during opening weekend. The Gauchos (2-1 overall, 0-1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) downed Cal Baptist 8-2 and Cal State San Bernadino 12-4 on Saturday before dropping a close game 10-7 to #1 UCLA yesterday.

In the first half of its Southern California doubleheader Saturday, Santa Barbara started off the season with four unanswered goals in the first two periods against the Lancers. The Gauchos responded to two Cal Baptist goals in the third period with four more goals of their own.

Senior utility Jen D’Anna and junior defender Aimee Stachowski both contributed two goals while freshmen center Alli Perez and defender Amanda Tipton notched the first goals of their UCSB careers in the win.

Hours later, the Gauchos were at Cal State San Bernardino facing UCSB Head Coach Danielle Altman’s former team. The Coyotes could not make a comeback after trailing 5-0 after the first quarter and 8-2 at the half.

Stachowski and freshman utility Gilian Morgan paced the Gauchos with two and three goals, respectively. Seven other Santa Barbara players recorded a goal in the win including last season’s leading scorer, senior Alaina Whitaker. Senior utility and All-American Sarah Reneker led the Coyotes with two goals.

Coming off the two decisive victories Saturday, UCSB faced a daunting task in hosting the top-ranked Bruins (3-0 overall, 2-0 MPSF) on Sunday.

Although the Gauchos got on the board first with a goal from sophomore attacker Lindsay Knott with 3:09 left in the first quarter, the lead would not last long. Sophomore center defender Monique Blanchard responded to tie up the game, sparking a seven goal scoring run for UCLA. With seconds remaining in the second quarter, Whitaker finally answered, getting the Gauchos a crooked number on the scoreboard and cutting the lead to 7-2 at halftime.

A UCSB rally in the second half pulled it to within four goals at the end of the third period. Leading 8-4 going into the final seven minutes, the Bruins put away another two goals while holding Santa Barbara to three to clinch the win.

Knott and Whitaker led the Gauchos with two goals apiece. UCLA got three goals from junior driver Kelly Rulon and two more from senior utility Kristina Kunkel in the win.

This weekend, Santa Barbara travels to the UC San Diego Invitational in La Jolla, Calif.
-Nexus Staff Report