The #16 UCSB women’s water polo team is heading down to UC San Diego’s Triton Invitational this weekend, looking to make a statement against some of the nation’s best competition.
The Gauchos (2-0 overall) are coming off consecutive wins in last weekend’s Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunner Mini Tournament, including blowout and overtime victories. UCSB hopes its success in overtime against the tough Roadrunners (1-3) will help the squad reverse last year’s misfortunes, which included 13 one-goal losses.
“The fact that we beat Bakersfield by one gives us more confidence heading into this weekend,” senior goalie Jenny Gonzales said. “Last year we would have lost that game.”
This newfound confidence will hopefully spark UCSB in a tournament boasting 12 of the top 21 collegiate teams. UCSB is pooled in Group D with opponents #8 UC Davis (3-1), #10 Hartwick (0-3), and the University of Redlands (0-2 overall). All three teams provide a potential measuring stick for the young squad looking to make a statement to the nation.
“We are underrated,” Gonzales said. “We have a new coach, we have a new attitude and we are going to win a lot of one-goal games.”
UCSB’s first tournament game is against Hartwick, a team the Gauchos went 1-1 against last season. This is a game the Gauchos must win to medal and feel is essential to making strides as a team.
“We definitely want to win or at least medal,” said Gonzales. “Our main focus right now is to beat Hartwick. We are just taking it one game at a time.”
If UCSB is going to find success, it will undoubtedly come from the upperclassmen, the leaders of the team. Co-captains Gonzales and junior defender Amanda Tipton will anchor the defensive end of the pool, while co-captain senior attacker Lindsay Knott will add offensive production.
Knott and the Gauchos will be looking to junior utility Gillian Morgan, last weekend’s nine-goal hero, for offensive production. Last weekend, Morgan followed up a four-goal performance against Fresno Pacific (0-6) with an even more impressive five-goal outburst against CSU Bakersfield. Sophomore utility Christie Clark and sophomore center Lizzie Rouleau are two more Gauchos looking to build off last weekend’s success that saw them score five and four goals respectively.
The Gauchos kick off their weekend competition in UC San Diego’s Canyonview Aquatic Center at 12:45 p.m. against Hartwick. The outcome combined with the result of the Davis versus Redlands match will determine UCSB’s second opponent.