After weeks of building momentum and coming together as a team, the #16 UCSB women’s water polo team broke its 16-game losing streak Sunday with a 16-goal performance en route to a 16-6 win over the University of the Pacific.
The Gauchos (5-16 overall, 1-10 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) got five goals from sophomore utility Christie Clark and a pair from junior utility Gillian Morgan to go along with eight other Gaucho scorers to lead the outburst. UCSB managed to break through after building momentum through improved play throughout the season, most recently after last weekend’s close battles against #7 Arizona State and #6 Cal.
“It was good to win again,” senior co-captain attacker Lindsay Knott said. “It was a good way to put a sentence on the momentum we had gained.”
Clark got the Gauchos going early with the first two strikes of the game, before the Tigers (4-24 overall, 0-12 MPSF) got on the board seconds later. Clark recorded her team-leading seventh hat trick of the season to start the second quarter, and UCSB would quickly build the lead to 5-1, and eventually headed into halftime up 8-3.
“We came out ready to play,” senior co-captain goalie Jenny Gonzales said. “Going into MPSF play, we are just trying to put it all together. We’re playing really, really well right now.”
UCSB didn’t slow down at all in the second half, as it continued to build on its lead throughout the remainder of the match. More and more young Gauchos got into the action, as freshman defender Breanna Duplisea, freshman center Kristin Kulakowski, freshman attacker Marilee Silveria, sophomore attacker Taylor Byrne and freshman attacker Jillian Waldron all scored goals before it was all said and done.
On a day that found the youth to be an invaluable success in MPSF play, it was a day that belonged to the two Gaucho seniors. Gonzales and Knott were honored before Sunday’s home finale on Senior Day and Alumni Day with family and friends in attendance. Gonzales posted six saves on the day before, giving way to freshman goalie Kate Murphy, while Knott did not figure into the scoring.
UCSB returns to action to close out MPSF play this Saturday when it travels to Northridge to take on CSUN at 10 a.m. before playing a non-conference match against Cal State San Bernardino at 1 p.m.