The UCSB women’s water polo team will have its hands full this weekend as it faces one of the nation’s top teams and seeks revenge for a last-second defeat suffered last weekend in the Triton Invitational.
The Gauchos face face nationally third-ranked Stanford on Saturday and San Diego State on Sunday in a rematch of last weekend’s tournament battle for third place – a game he Gauchos lost in the closing seconds after two straight goals by the Aztecs.
“I thought we were the stronger team,” senior utility Jen D’Anna said. “We just didn’t play for the whole 35 seconds.” D’Anna had five goals in their defeat of #13 Hartwick in the first game of last weekend’s tournament. She is one of the keys to the Gaucho offense that has struggled in comparison to its stifling defense – one of the strongest in the nation.
“Our strength this year is purely going to be on defense,” Head Coach Danielle Altman said. “We look to create our offense from our defense.”
The Gauchos have a big weight on their minds regarding Stanford – a very quick team in the water according to Altman. The Cardinal – a participant in last season’s Final Four – also has a very deep roster of players who all work well according to D’Anna.
“They work well as a team,” D’Anna said. “They are all really strong together and there isn’t just one player you can double team. You really have to keep your eye on everybody.”
The Gauchos seek retribution against San Diego State on Sunday. Last weekend, a victory as well as third place, slipped through UCSB’s fingers. The Aztecs scored the final two goals bringing them back from behind to win 6-5, in a game where neither team led by more than one goal. The Aztecs broke the tie in the final 35 seconds of the game.
“We had a lot of close goals that barred out so we’ve been working on shooting a lot,” D’Anna said. “So those opportunities we can put away this time.”
According to Altman, Santa Barbara will have to adjust to the Aztecs’ more physical play. The Gauchos have been working on their front-end offense and team communication. Last weekend’s loss is a reminder that they need to finish out every quarter.
Santa Barbara faces the #3 Cardinal at noon Saturday and hosts San Diego State in the rematch at noon Sunday. Both games are at Campus Pool.