The #13 UCSB women’s water polo team (4-3 overall, 0-1 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) will have plenty of opportunities this weekend to end their three game slide when they head to Irvine for a full slate of action.
The Gauchos will take on #10 UC Irvine (4-3, 0-2 MPSF) in conference play for the second time this season on Friday before they compete amongst the top competition in the country during this weekend’s UC Irvine Invitational.
Last weekend’s 10-6 loss in their MPSF opener to Long Beach State was a continuation of a downward offensive trend for the Gauchos who have had trouble scoring lately. The Gauchos are scoring 5.6 goals per game in their last three games (all losses) after scoring a whopping 16 goals per game in their first four matches. To ignite the offense, the Gauchos will most likely turn to junior utility Gillian Morgan (team high 19 goals) this weekend when they play five games in three days; a tall task for any team, let alone a team struggling to find results.
“We conditioned hard early in the week and now we are focusing on strategy,” senior attacker Lindsay Knott said. “We play well when we have a lot of pressure. The pressure will be good for us.”
Pressure will be a good test for the young Gaucho squad, and UCSB will look to its co-captains Knott, junior defender Amanda Tipton and senior goalie Jenny Gonzales for guidance in turning the tide in favor of the Gauchos.
“The captains all bring something to the table, so whatever you need from the captains one of us has it,” Knott said. “We are all trying to keep the morale positive.”
Friday’s rematch against Irvine will be a chance for the Gauchos to avenge their 10-5 loss suffered at the UC San Diego Triton Invitational. In tournament play, UCSB is pooled in Bracket D with last week’s opponent #12 Long Beach State (5-3, 1-1 MPSF), along with #5 UC Berkeley (6-3, 2-1 MPSF) and #4 Hawaii (6-2, 3-0 MPSF).
The Gauchos kick off their weekend at UC Irvine on Friday at 3 p.m., and continue with tournament play starting against Cal on Saturday at 12:45 p.m.