The UCSB women’s water polo team heads into this weekend’s match against visiting University of Pacific looking to pick up its first conference win of the season and its first win in 16 games.
Unlike previous weeks in which the Gauchos were the underdog, this weekend’s match presents a rare opportunity as the 17th-ranked Gauchos (4-16 overall, 0-10 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) play the non-ranked Tigers (4-22, 0-11 MPSF). UCSB is coming off arguably its two best games of the season when it lost by one to #7 Arizona State and played even water polo for most of the match against #6 Cal Berkeley before losing by a two goal margin.
“Last weekend we succeeded in playing up to [ASU and Cal’s] level,” senior attacker Lindsay Knott said. “Our goal is being consistent and staying at that level and to keep building on that momentum.”
This game has more than pride on the line for the Gauchos, as UCSB is trying to win its last two conference matches against teams with similar records to give themselves the best situation possible heading into MPSF Tournament play.
“If we beat Pacific this weekend and Northridge next weekend, it puts us in good standing for the MPSF Tournament,” said Knott.
The Gauchos will look to their two top scorers for this weekend’s game. UCSB has been led offensively all year by sophomore utility Christie Clark and junior utility Gillian Morgan. Morgan, with 39 goals, and Clark, with 31 goals, have six hat tricks apiece this season and their 70 tallies account for 47 percent of the team’s 148 goals.
Defensively, the Gauchos are led by senior goalie Jenny Gonzales and junior defender Amanda Tipton and will have to stop a good Tiger offense. Pacific boasts one of the best in the conference in senior Kellie Fletcher. Her 63 goals are good enough for second in the MPSF, but her 2.52 goals per game rank her first. Fletcher is joined up front by impressive freshman Dara Tawarahara who has found the back of the cage 44 times this season.
Saturday’s game between host UCSB and Pacific is set for noon at UCSB’s Rec Cen Pool.