The UCSB women’s water polo team ended a five-game skid Saturday, defeating #18 Cal State Northridge, 7-6. Senior utility Jen D’Anna scored four goals in the sprint, bringing her season scoring total to 42 tying her career-high she attained during her sophomore year in the 2004 season.
D’Anna has had to step up for the team on the offensive end in light of a big loss due to the injury of junior defender Aimee Stachowski, who threw out her shoulder during a Spring Break tournament held at the University of Hawaii. According to Head Coach Danielle Altman, senior attacker Alaina Whitaker was another key player in Saturday’s victory, coming away with two goals on the day.
The Gauchos felt the blow of Stachowski’s injury, losing five-straight matches following her injury.
“She’s one of our prime defenders,” Altman said. “She usually plays the center defender position and when that person is covered it allows us to play man to man; with her out we are forced to play zone.”
Altman continued to say that Stachowski’s injury, especially this late in the season, was difficult to cope with during the five sprints played during Spring Break because there was not much time to practice and make adjustments. Yet, the week leading up to Sunday’s meeting with Northridge allowed the team to make the proper adjustments needed as a result of the loss of their leading defender.
Santa Barbara came out strong Saturday, holding the Matadors scoreless in the first quarter while hitting the back of the cage four times. Northridge scored two quick goals in the second period. After they held UCSB scoreless for 13 minutes, the Gauchos finally scored just after the Matadors capitalized on a penalty situation that had brought them within one.
UCSB hit one more to end the third quarter making it 6-4. Despite being outscored 5-3 in the second half, the Gauchos managed to hold on, scoring one more in the fourth quarter making the final score 7-6.
“We were able to come back and regroup and we just had to make that adjustment,” Altman said.
Santa Barbara is awaiting Stachowski’s return, but according to Altman she should return, at the latest, just before the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference tournament held April 27-30. The team is currently ranked #11 in the nation, falling from the commanding eighth-place ranking they held prior to its five-game skid.
The Gauchos are 13-14 overall this season and 3-7 in MPSF play. Their next match is Saturday, April 15 as they head on the road again to face San Diego State and UC San Diego in a doubleheader. The Gauchos lost their first and only meeting with San Diego State on Feb. 12 by just one goal. The Aztecs are currently ranked #7 in the country. The sprint will be a chance for UCSB to move up in the national rankings because it was a good match for the Aztecs the last time around.
Santa Barbara won their first match with UCSD 9-8 during the Gaucho Invitational. The Tritons are currently ranked #14 in the nation, a spot they have remained in since their loss to UCSB put them there late in February. Play begins at 10 a.m. as the Gauchos face San Diego State and then again at 3 p.m. with UCSD.