After a tough weekend on the road, the #13 UCSB women’s water polo team comes back home today for its season finale against #3 USC. The Gauchos will also host a mini tournament on Saturday, playing #20 Cal State Northridge and Chapman University.
The Gauchos (14-17 overall, 2-8 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) will have to play aggressively as the Trojans (17-4, 9-2 in the MPSF) will want to finish their season with a bang. The Trojans are fresh off a weekend where they earned a trio of wins at home which wrapped up USC’s fifth consecutive undefeated home season.
The Gauchos are led in scoring by sophomore utility Gillian Morgan – who has 36 goals this season – and senior center Sarah Kovach, who has racked up 38. Junior goalie Jenny Gonzales averages 6.7 saves per games and grabbed a total of 24 in last week’s matches.
“We are preparing like we would with every other team,” Head Coach Danielle Altman said. “They play an aggressive game and we need to create opportunities in our offense to score and be ready on defense to win. They are going to be a physical team and it will all come down to defense.”
After going head-to-head with the Women of Troy, the Gauchos will have another conference match against the Matadors (13-17, 1-8 MPSF). UCSB holds the series advantage, boasting a 6-1 all-time record against the Matadors. With both teams trying to capture a conference victory, Santa Barbara will have to be on the lookout for CSUN’s junior utility Allison Brookes, who has notched 52 goals this season and has scored nine goals in the last week.
“We can play Northridge pretty fast. They are going to be tough to score on, but we are creating opportunities to score on our counterattacks to win the game,” Altman said. “I think we will do great and the seniors will play their best. They need to play at a higher level than they’ve been playing. This is their weekend.”
The Gauchos will end their season with a pressure free nonconference game against Chapman. Chapman (7-14) comes to Campus Pool amid a seven-game losing streak, recently falling to Cal State East Bay 15-6.