The UCSB women’s water polo team opens the 2008 season with two Saturday games in this weekend’s Cal State Bakersfield Mini Tournament. The 2007 Gaucho season was defined by a late season collapse with a 4-12 record down the stretch against some of the nation’s top competition. UCSB (16-24 overall, 3-14 MPSF) finished in 12th place in the 13 team Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

After eight months, UCSB gets to start the season with a clean slate in this weekend’s tournament with games against Fresno Pacific and Cal State Bakersfield. Looking to start anew, the Gauchos replaced former head coach Danielle Altman with Jenn Durley in the offseason. Durley comes to the Gauchos after being the top assistant at the University of Michigan for the past four years. In all four years, the Wolverines were Collegiate Water Polo Association Western Division champions.

If Durley is going to find success in her first year as head coach, she will have to do so with a notably young roster. Only four of the 25 Gauchos are upperclassmen: senior goalie Jenny Gonzalez, senior attacker Lindsay Knott, junior utility Gillian Morgan and junior defender Amanda Tipton. Morgan led the team in scoring with 47 goals, while Tipton and Knott added 33 and 28 goals apiece, which was good for fourth and six respectively in team scoring. Gonzalez was strong in net all year posting 240 saves. The foursome looks to build on their individual success last year and hope to provide more than just leadership for the Gauchos in 2008.

The Gauchos kick off the season Saturday at John S. Hillman Aquatic Center in Bakersfield with a 10:30 a.m. contest against Fresno Pacific and follow it up with a 4:00 p.m. match against host Cal State Bakersfield.