The UCSB women’s water polo team split its doubleheader in San Diego on Saturday, losing 11-7 to #8 San Diego State and bouncing back to win a double overtime nail-biter 13-12 over UC San Diego later in the day.
Junior center Sarah Kovach had a career-best six goals against UC San Diego, the last of which came in sudden death to end it.
“I think that we were all kind of bummed about San Diego State,” Kovach said. “But we wanted to come out and prove ourselves. Our whole team had a we’re-going-to-do-it attitude.”
After losing five straight during Spring Break and faced with their lowest ranking all season, the sprint versus the Tritons was a must-win for UCSB.
“We definitely earned that win together,” Kovach said. “The whole time the team was supporting each other. Everyone wanted to win.”
The Gauchos scored the first three goals of the game, but the Tritons answered with the next four. At the half UC San Diego led 5-4, but Santa Barbara came back with a strong second-half effort that has been a recurring theme in their game all year.
In the third period the score was tied on three separate occasions, but UC San Diego took control at the end, hitting the back of the net twice, pushing the score to 9-7 in favor of the Tritons at the end of the third. In a heavy-scoring fourth period senior attacker Alaina Whitaker tied the score at 11 with 1:51 left to send the game into overtime.
Kovach scored once in the first overtime and after neither team could hold a lead after two overtime periods UCSB called a time out to set up a play early in the sudden death period as they gained possession. Coming out of the time out everything worked to perfection as Kovach hit the winning goal in the Gauchos’ final road game of the season.
Freshman defender Amanda Tipton stepped up in both games, helping to patch up a defense that has struggled recently since junior defender Aimee Stachowski has been injured.
“Tipton played wonderful defense the whole weekend,” Kovach said. “Even though Stachowski was out Amanda stepped up and, as a freshman, benefited us a lot.”
Junior utility ZiZi Clark had three goals in the sprint with the Aztecs but their offense was too strong for the ailing Gaucho defense.
“We were down 8-2 at one point and we came back to make it a two-point game,” Kovach said. “But we came back too late to actually win.”
The Gauchos (14-15 overall, 3-8 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) host #1 USC on Friday at 5 p.m. in their final match before the conference championships that begin April 27.