The #17 UCSB women’s water polo team put up a good fight in its opening Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament match against fifth seed Hawaii, but it wasn’t enough as the Gauchos fell in San Diego 15-11.
The twelfth-seeded Gauchos (5-19 overall, 1-11 MPSF) got big offensive performances from sophomore utility Christie Clark and sophomore center Lizzie Rouleau, who each registered a hat trick in the match. Junior utility Gillian Morgan and senior co-captain attacker Lindsay Knott also scored twice in the loss.
UCSB got off to a great start against the #7 Rainbow Wahine (18-8, 7-5 MPSF), hanging with them for the entire first half. After a first quarter that netted Hawaii a one-goal lead, the Gauchos showed impressive resilience and poise in the second quarter. UCSB and Hawaii would trade goals for most of the second quarter that was filled with goal scoring as the two squads found the back of the cage six times each.
“We went into the game with a really good attitude and mindset knowing this game was pivotal and this is the end of our season,” Knott said. “We were really pumped up and our confidence was up.”
The Gauchos would tie the game one last time as Clark scored early in the second half, but it was all Rainbow Wahine from there. Hawaii used a stretch of five unanswered goals in the third and fourth quarters to pull away for good.
The Gauchos will have an opportunity to get a win in MPSF tournament play when they square off against Pacific (4-25, 0-12 MPSF) this morning. UCSB beat the Tigers nearly two weeks ago for its only conference victory of the season and only win in its last 20 games, a stretch of two and a half months. The win came in impressive fashion for the Gauchos as they piled up 16 goals and got a lot of players involved.
“It’s just a matter of knowing we are better than our record shows,” Knott said. “We are concentrating on playing at a higher level.”
Pacific heads into this match coming off a good old-fashioned beat-down at the hands of host San Diego State, losing 16-2. The Tigers are led by senior Kellie Fletcher who has a team-high 63 goals on the year, and second-leading scorer freshman Dara Tawarahara who has 44 goals.
UCSB’s next tournament game is scheduled for 10 a.m. this morning when they will take on thirteenth-seeded Tigers at San Diego State’s Aztec Aquaplex.