The #13 UCSB women’s water polo team dropped two of three games this weekend as they were outmatched by #3 USC 17-6 and narrowly defeated by #20 Cal State Northridge 6-5, before completely dominating Chapman 22-4. This weekend marked the last home series of the season as well as the regular season finale and all that awaits UCSB is the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament, beginning this Thursday.
The Gauchos (15-19 overall, 2-10 in the MPSF) struggled early on against USC (18-4, 10-2 MPSF) and the Trojans led 9-1 in the first half. In the first quarter the Gauchos fell behind 3-0 before managing to get on the board thanks to senior utility ZiZi Clark. However, USC’s offense controlled the game, outscoring UCSB 5-0 in the second quarter.
In the second half Santa Barbara showed it was ready for payback and quickly scored their second goal off a powerful shot from senior center Sarah Kovach. The Trojans managed to get one to bring the score to 10-2. The Gauchos retaliated 20 seconds later off a goal from freshman utility Christie Clark, who scored from well beyond the seven-meter mark. Freshman attacker Alisha Khan scored back-to-back goals to make the score 13-5 and later sophomore driver Amanda Tipton scored another goal for the Gauchos to cut USC’s lead to eight. UCSB won the fourth quarter sprint, but the Trojans managed to score three more goals and kept the Gauchos at bay 17-6 until the end of the game.
“We battled throughout the whole game,” Head Coach Danielle Altman said. “We did a lot of things well, but we had a breakdown of defense. The girls showed toughness. We stepped it up on offense and we had good opportunities and counterattacks, but we just could not convert them.”
The Gauchos and the Matadors (15-17 overall, 2-10 MPSF) had a very close game, with each team tying the score twice before Northridge swept right under to clinch the victory. UCSB put itself on the scoreboard first with a goal from sophomore utility Gillian Morgan. Santa Barbara scored again in the second stanza with a goal from Kovach, assisted by senior defender Aimee Stachowski. Kovach scored her second goal when she took advantage of the Matador’s defense to give the Gauchos a 3-0 lead. The Matadors came back with three goals to tie the game before halftime.
Northridge scored again in the third quarter, which was the only goal of the quarter. Christie Clark went one-on-one with the Matador goalie to tie the score at four in the fourth quarter. CSUN’s junior two-meter Christine Cruz scored two goals in the fourth to make it 6-4. Trailing by two with nine seconds remaining, Morgan scored to cut the lead by one, but the Gauchos ran out of time and Northridge captured the conference victory.
“We gave CSUN a high percentage to score on offense, but we battled as well through the whole game,” Altman said. “The seniors stepped it up, and overall, they have done a nice job.”
Despite dropping two conference games, the Gauchos showed their true talent and strength by dominating Chapman 22-4 to close the regular season. UCSB’s seniors took complete control in their final collegiate game at Campus Pool, with Kovach scoring two consecutive goals. Stachowski scored off a skip shot and ZiZi Clark followed to give UCSB a 4-0 lead. The Gauchos continued their score fest with goals from senior attackers Teale Walheim and Allie Carkin.
UCSB went on a scoring frenzy in the second stanza with all the quarter’s goals scored by Gauchos. Carkin, ZiZi Clark, Kovach and Walheim – who each scored four – and Becca Maichrowicz all netted goals for Santa Barbara. Morgan netted another for UCSB and freshman attacker Kelley Fernbacher scored back-to-back goals to bring the Gauchos’ lead to 18-2. Freshman attacker Kimi Stephens and Christie Clark each scored to bring the score to 20-3 in the fourth. Chapman scored again before Kovach’s fourth goal and Fernbacher’s hat trick goal sealed the deal and ended the game at 22-4.