Despite strong performances from its defense this Saturday, the #12 UCSB women’s water polo team could not capture a win against #9 UC Irvine (6-1 overall, 1-0 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation), losing 6-3 in its first home game of the season. However, the Gauchos pulled together and showed their strength when they defeated nonconference foe Cal State San Bernardino (2-5 overall) 16-10 later that day.

“We played very well. We minimized our mistakes and we just need to put up more goals,” Head Coach Danielle Altman said. “We are going to work on our shooting. We missed goals by inches. It’s plain and simple.”

The Gauchos’ (5-3 overall, 0-1 in the MPSF) and the Anteaters’ defenses began strong, not allowing any goals well into the first quarter, but the Anteaters would claim their first goal when sophomore two-meter Gianna Ross scored with 2:26 left on the clock. In the second quarter, neither team could muster a score despite countless opportunities until Irvine answered again when senior utility Robyn Kaake’s shot hit the back of the net at the 4:48 mark.

The Gauchos, down 2-0 in the second half, responded when junior attacker Lindsay Knott scored within the next two minutes. Although both teams had a two-man advantage, neither was able to muster points until Kaake scored off of a five-meter penalty to make the score 3-1. The Gauchos saw back-to-back goals from freshman attacker Alisha Khan and senior utility Zizi Clark while Irvine scored with a goal by freshman Kat Plummer. Irvine secured the win in the fourth quarter when Plummer scored at the 2:29 mark followed by a goal from sophomore driver Sarah Frost with 14 seconds left on the clock.

“Our shots were failing, but it’s good to know that we only have to work on a few things, so we can beat them next time,” Clark said. “It was disappointing because we thought we could beat them, but we are a great team and have a lot of talent.”

The Gauchos were able to bounce back from their loss to the Anteaters with a win against the Coyotes. Senior defender Aimee Stachowski scored within a minute of the game while two other Gauchos scored a combined total of three goals. Freshman utility Christie Clark netted one and senior center Sarah Kovach scored two. Senior attacker Teale Walheim also scored for the Gauchos, until the Coyotes got on the board with a goal by junior driver Sabrina Marquez, bringing the game to 5-2.

Senior attacker Allie Carkin scored another goal for the Gauchos with one second remaining to push UCSB up 6-2. Clark won the sprint for UCSB in the second quarter, which allowed Khan to score. Freyja Berg and Abby Rich then scored two goals for the Coyotes, but Knott scored back-to-back goals to put the score at 9-4.

UCSB opened the second half with a 3-0 run to increase their lead to 12-5 thanks to goals by sophomore defender Amanda Tipton, Clark and sophomore utility Gillian Morgan. The Coyotes, however, would not go down quietly as they scored twice in the fourth quarter. Clark had an impressive game, netting two additional goals. The Coyotes would respond with three unanswered goals, but UCSB hung on to win 16-10.

“We are a defensive team and the main thing is to get pumped up,” Clark said. “We have a great week ahead of us. We are going to be playing some of the top teams in the nation and we are looking to upset some of the teams and show our potential.”

The Gauchos will have a tough road ahead of them when they travel to play against the University of Hawaii in the Irvine Tournament next week.