You win some, you lose some. The UCSB women’s water polo team lived up to the old mantra this past weekend, going 2-2 at the Triton Invitational.
#14 Santa Barbara (6-5 overall) opened the up-and-down tournament against #16 Indiana. Both teams came out strong, netting three goals each in the first period before the Gauchos gained the advantage with a 3-1 run to take a 6-4 lead at half. After a strong end to the first, UCSB struggled in the second half, allowing the Hoosiers to catch up and tie the game at 8-8 as regulation came to a close.
Both teams scored a goal apiece in the first period to force another, but Santa Barbara finally ended the game in the second overtime off a goal from junior utility Claire Buchanan. UCSB 10, Indiana 9.
In game two, the Gauchos faced off against conference foe UC Irvine. The game followed a strikingly similar pattern as the Indiana game. UCSB went into half with a 5-3 lead and looked in control of the game, but the #11 Anteaters came out hungry in the second half and went on a 3-0 run to grab hold of the lead at 6-5. With less than a second of regulation left, the Gauchos were awarded a penalty shot off an Anteater foul. Trailing by one, junior utility Christie Clark, UCSB’s go-to-girl in clutch moments, stepped up to the mark as the referees cleared the pool. The junior took her aim and fired to tie the game at six and force overtime.
“[The penalty shot] was really exciting,” Clark said.
Santa Barbara tried to carry over the momentum into overtime but fell flat, failing to score a goal in the first and second overtime periods. Irvine pulled out the hard-fought win 7-6. Although disappointed by the outcome, the Gauchos have confidence in their chances against UCI the next time both teams meet.
“We’re going to feed the Anteaters revenge next time,” junior attacker Katie Kepner said.
UCSB opened up the next morning against another Big West opponent in #15 UC Davis. After the Aggies beat Santa Barbara twice last season, nothing, including two double overtime games, was going to stop the Gauchos from winning.
Santa Barbara continued its streak of opening strong, outscoring Davis 2-0 in the first period and then 3-2 in the second for a 5-2 lead at half. With an even 2-2 output in the second half, the Gauchos had earned their revenge.
The Gauchos’ last game pitted them against #12 Northridge. The last time the two teams met was when UCSB upset the Matadors — the #1 seed at the time — at the 2009 Big West Championship Tournament. At match’s end, it was apparent that Northridge had not let bygones be bygones.
With a little revenge of its own in mind, Northridge outscored Santa Barbara 5-1 in the first half before cruising to an 8-3 victory.
Though the Gauchos would have liked nothing more than to win out, they were more than content with a sixth place finish after finishing 13th at this same tournament last year.
“[The tournament] went really well,” junior utility Kathryn Nelson said. “We can learn a lot from these games.”
After an exhausting span of 11 games in 15 days, including three multiple-overtime games, the Gauchos will finally be rewarded with some much-needed rest. The team’s next action will come in two weeks at the UC Irvine Invitational.