The #16 UCSB women’s water polo team heads down south this weekend looking to wrap up conference play with back-to-back wins and tune-up for the upcoming Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament.
The Gauchos (5-16 overall, 1-10 in the MPSF) close out the MPSF season when they travel to #15 CSU Northridge to take on the Matadors (9-17, 1-9 MPSF) on Saturday morning before they take on Cal State San Bernardino (16-14) in a nonconference match-up later in the afternoon.
The Gauchos are playing some of their best water polo of the season coming off their dominating 16-6 home victory over Pacific. Last weekend’s win was an exclamation point on the growing momentum the squad had built over recent close games against the nation’s elite competition. Fast-forward to this weekend, and UCSB is eager to try and knock off the team directly above them in the standings.
“This game has a lot to do with our confidence,” senior co-captain attacker Lindsay Knott said. “It’s a team we lost to earlier, and we are definitely capable of beating them.”
As they have done all year, the Gauchos will look to their team leaders to stop Northridge this weekend. Co-captains Knott, senior goalie Jenny Gonzales and junior defender Amanda Tipton each bring a different leadership quality to the table and balance each other out.
“[As a captain] you always want to play well,” Knott said. “Our captains all have our own strengths, and where one of us may be weak, another will make up for it.”
While every team needs veteran leadership, every team needs scoring production as well. This year, the UCSB offense has gone through two players in junior utility Gillian Morgan and sophomore utility Christie Clark. Last weekend Clark recorded her team-leading, seventh hat trick of the season by posting five of her 36 goals on the season. Clark is second on the Gauchos only to Morgan, who leads the team with 41 goals and six hat tricks this year. Both will be counted on to pace the Gaucho offense.
Senior two-meter Allison Brookes and junior driver Jessica Coy lead Northridge offensively with their 38 and 32 goals, respectively. Sophomore goalie Jillian Stapf is posting 8.6 saves per game, while letting in an average of 9.6 per game.
This weekend’s road trip starts in Northridge at 10 a.m. before UCSB heads over to San Bernardino to play at 1 p.m.