It would be easy to look at the #17 UCSB women’s water polo record (4-16 overall, 0-10 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) and write off this season as all but over. But don’t tell that to the lady Gauchos, as they continued to make strides and come together as a team by nearly upsetting #7 ASU on Saturday, and #6 Cal on Sunday.

“We are definitely getting more respect not only from the officials, but other teams as well,” said senior attacker co-captain Lindsay Knott. “We are starting to turn heads around the conference.”

Saturday’s 5-4 loss and Sunday’s 8-6 defeat were the second and third games that the Gauchos have played under newly named interim Head Coach Paul Rave. Rave officially took over on March 27th, when former head coach Jenn Durley had to leave the team due to medical reasons.

“We are really trying to back Paul,” said Knott. “We went though a lot in the middle of the season, and we decided to put it all behind us.

Taking a fresh attitude into Saturday’s match, the Gauchos stayed with the Sun Devils (18-9 overall, 4-4 MPSF) all game in a back and forth contest. UCSB closed the game to within one with a fourth quarter goal by sophomore utility Christie Clark and pressured ASU the last few minutes, but couldn’t manage to tie the match as time expired. The Gauchos were able to hang with ASU thanks in large part to a standout performance in the cage by senior goalie co-captain Jenny Gonzales, who posted a game-high six saves. Offensively, the Gauchos got two goals apiece from their two leading scorers, Clark and junior utility Gillian Morgan.

UCSB tasted a hard-to-come-by victory on Saturday, amidst its 16-game losing streak, and played like it wanted the real thing on Sunday against the visiting Bears (15-8 overall, 6-5 MPSF). After the Bears jumped out to a three-goal lead, the Gauchos fought back to play even water polo with Cal through three quarters and entered the fourth with the score tied at five. Gonzales showed her leadership and big-game ability for the second game in as many days with nine saves, but they weren’t enough, as Cal pulled away with three third-quarter goals to win 8-6. UCSB found offensive firepower again from Clark, who got a hat trick, and Knott, who scored two goals.

“We were really hitting on our six-on-fives,” said Knott. “We found a weakness in their six-on-five defense and attacked it.”

Clark’s hat trick was her sixth of the year, and gives her 31 goals this season, good for second on the team.

UCSB continues its MPSF play next weekend as it hosts Pacific on Apr. 13 at noon.