The #16 UCSB women’s water polo teamed dominated its opponents this weekend, winning three of four games at the UCSD Triton Invitational. The Gauchos beat #12 Santa Clara 9-7, Michigan 7-4 and #15 Hartwick 12-6, but couldn’t secure the sweep and fell to #6 San Diego State 8-7.

“We played very well. As the games progressed, we kept getting better and better. The Hartwick game was fantastic, and it showed what kind of strive and changes we did in a week,” Head Coach Danielle Altman said. “The team is playing the exact game I want us to play. We’re not giving up a lot of goals.”

The Gauchos (4-2) opened the Triton Invitational against Santa Clara and scored within the first minute of the game with a goal from senior utility Zizi Clark. Santa Clara came back two minutes later with a goal by Claire Linney to make it even at one.

The Broncos scored 13 seconds before the quarter ended when Maria Jarrell netted a goal to make it 2-1. Santa Clara went on a 2-0 run before the Gauchos took control of the ball and made two goals, one from Clark and the other from senior defender Aimee Stachowski, bringing the score to 4-3. The Broncos repeated their 2-0 run again in the second quarter, but the Gauchos responded by completing a 4-0 run with two goals by Stachowski, one from freshman utility Christie Clark and another by sophomore defender Katlin Kubas. The solid run gave the Gauchos their first lead of the game at 7-6. But the Gauchos weren’t finished – Zizi and Christie Clark would score two more goals in the final period to secure the win for Santa Barbara.

“It felt good to win. We played as a team,” Stachowski said. “We could see our potential at every game and know where we were at. To open the game with a win was fantastic.”

The Gauchos, however, could not ride their momentum into the next game as the Aztecs put an end to UCSB’s winning ways. The Gauchos took an early three-point lead at 4-1, but in the second quarter, the Aztecs scored three consecutive goals to tie the game before the Gauchos were able to score to make it 5-4. The Aztecs would score two more goals, but the Gauchos would score again to bring the score 6-6.

In the final quarter, San Diego State netted a quick strike to make it 7-6, but UCSB would score again to tie the game up again. The Aztecs secured the victory with 55 seconds remaining in the final period thanks to their eighth goal in the match. Senior center Sarah Kovach scored three goals, Stachowski scored two, and junior attacker Lindsay Knott and Kubas each scored one for the Gauchos.

“After the win against Santa Clara, we got encouraged to win; although we didn’t win, we played better,” Kovach said. “It showed our talent and potential, and we played very well.”

The highlight of the invitational for the Gauchos was winning against Hartwick, a team they lost to last week at the Cal Baptist Invitational. Sophomore defender Amanda Tipton led the Gauchos with two goals and put the Gauchos on the scoreboard first. Freshmen center Lizzie Rouleau and attacker Alisha Khan also scored one goal each for the Gauchos as they closed the game with four uncontested goals.

“We were so motivated to prove ourselves and show them we are a better team. It felt good,” Kovach said. “It was exciting. We proved everyone who didn’t think we could beat them wrong.”