The #12 UCSB women’s water polo team will have its hands full during this weekend’s rough road trip, where they will face #9 San Jose State, Santa Clara and #1 Stanford. Two of these games are conference games, meaning the Gauchos (13-15 overall, 2-6 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) will have to be at the top of their game.
“I feel really good about this weekend,” Head Coach Danielle Altman said. “The girls are ready to play and we have a real opportunity with San Jose to capture a conference game. In our conference, games can go either way because we are all great teams, but I feel good about us. [Stanford] is the #1 team in our conference, but we are capable of playing to their level and it should be an exciting game.”
This weekend will be challenging for Santa Barbara, as San Jose State (12-9, 5-4 MPSF) is coming off a 7-6 victory against #4 UC Irvine (16-9, 3-7 MPSF) and is riding a six-game winning streak. Stanford (19-1 overall, 8-0 MPSF) has been near unbeatable and has won its last 17 matches. The Gauchos defeated Santa Clara (17-11) 9-7 on Feb. 10.
“Santa Clara will always be tough, but we beat them before and I feel confident,” Altman said. “We have three good games this weekend, but our defense was absolutely superb against Hawaii. We always work on putting the ball in the goal and working on our counterattacks. Three of our goals were counterattacks, so it has paid off.”
The Gauchos last took to the water against #4 Hawaii, losing 7-6 when senior center Sarah Kovach missed the tying goal by a few inches. However, UCSB junior goalie Jenny Gonzales notched 11 saves and Santa Barbara’s defense was solid. Senior defender Aimee Stachowski and sophomore utility Gillian Morgan each netted a goal with about two minutes remaining to help the Gauchos bring the score to 7-6, but Kovach’s missed shot allowed Hawaii to clinch the victory.