After what seemed to be a promising start to the season, the UCSB women’s water polo team comes home this weekend to play #1 UCLA searching for answers and to end their eight-game losing streak.

“The morale is obviously low,” senior co-captain defender Amanda Tipton said. “It’s going to have to come from everybody to turn this season around.”

The #17 Gauchos’ (4-8 overall, 0-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) first home game of the year won’t be an easy task when they take on the top ranked Bruins (17-0, 3-0 MPSF), winners of last weekend’s UC San Diego Triton Invitational, a tournament in which UCSB finished last. The Gauchos lost Friday’s MPSF match against host UC Irvine before losing all four of their tournament matches.

“We have to keep our heads high,” Tipton said. “We are a young team, and if we let that affect us mentally, there’s no hope for the rest of the season.”

UCSB is struggling to find consistent offense lately outside of junior utility Gillian Morgan. Morgan’s 31 goals not only lead the Gauchos, but her 2.58 goals per game are good for second in the conference. The Gauchos will look to the second and third leading scorers on the squad in sophomore utility Christie Clark, who has netted 17 goals, and senior attacker Lindsay Knott, who has tallied 15 goals, for additional scoring.

UCLA has had no problems finding the back of the cage during its dominant season, averaging just over 12 goals a game, while giving up a stingy 5.18 per match. The Bruins are led offensively by junior attacker Katie Rulon, and her 2.12 goals per game, along with senior forward Brittany Rowe, who comes in averaging 1.65 goals per contest. A big part of UCLA’s attack surprisingly comes from the back end in senior defender Jillian Kraus, who is second on the team with 35 goals.

The Gauchos’ home opener against UCLA is slated for noon at UCSB’s Rec Cen Pool.