With a week of a rest following its most recent loss to Hartwick, the #16 UCSB women’s water polo team is poised to take on #12 Santa Clara this weekend at the San Diego Invitational.

If the Gauchos (1-1 overall) manage to beat Santa Clara (4-1), a team riding two conference victories in its last two games, they may move on to face UCSD (2-0). Santa Barbara will have to stop sophomore driver Brianna Anderson if it wants to find any success against the Broncos, as the Upland, Calif. native has tallied four goals and eight steals in her last two games.

“I feel confident about this week’s game. The difference is that we are fixing things that could have been fixed last week,” Head Coach Danielle Altman said. “We definitely want to win. They are compelled to win, and the loss was because we made a few mistakes and we’ve fixed them now.”

The Gauchos showed strength and talent at last week’s match at the Cal Baptist Tournament. Santa Barbara was able to win 9-8 against Cal Baptist (0-2) with help from senior center Sarah Kovach – who netted a game high four goals – senior defender Aimee Stachowski and freshman utility Christine Clark. Stachowski and Clark both contributed back-to-back goals to secure the Gaucho victory.

“We are going to improve on our one-on-one defense and shooting the ball efficiently,” Altman said. “We improve game to game and preseason games allow us to see where we are at and what we got to do to get better.”

Despite the victory against Cal Baptist, the Gauchos could not find the same success against #15 Hartwick and lost 6-5 last weekend. The Gaucho women were determined to get back into the game and soon cut the score to 6-5 with 2:15 left on the clock. Hartwick defender Marina Zablith was able to regain the ball with only seven seconds left on the clock, which allowed the Hawks to get the victory. Senior utility Zizi Clark also had two goals during the game.

“We are a competitive group and they have a determined outlook. [Hartwick] was a good learning experience because they are physically better than we are, and it taught the girls to be ready to take on tougher teams,” Assistant Coach Paul Rave said. “The girls are ready and they are the kind of players that if they played well, they always strive to play better.”

After tomorrow morning’s 10:15 start to the San Diego Invitational, Santa Barbara will return to Campus Pool on Feb. 17 in their home opener against #8 UC Irvine (2-0).