The UCSB women’s water polo team saw mixed results this weekend, finishing in 11th place at the UCI Invitational. After losing to #3 UCLA, #14 Santa Barbara (8-7 overall) defeated SDSU in overtime on Saturday. Sunday proved to be a similar story as the Gauchos lost to Big West foe Northridge 10-6 before dominating tournament host Irvine.
The #3 Bruins turned out to be too much for the Gauchos to handle. The first half ended with UCSB trailing 2-1, but UCLA capitalized on sloppy play in the second half to outscore the Gauchos 7-2 for the 9-3 victory.
“Our third quarter blew the game for us,” junior utility Kathryn Nelson said. “We weren’t passing well and caused too many turnovers.”
UCSB then looked to rebound against #13 San Diego State. Santa Barbara was up 5-3 at half, but a defensive error gave the Aztecs two goals in the final two minutes to tie the Gauchos at 8-8 at the end of regulation.
Junior attacker Katie Kepner scored in the first overtime to make the score 9-8, but SDSU countered with a goal of their own in the second overtime period, forcing sudden victory overtime. Senior center Lizzie Rouleau then scored her one and only goal in the entire match to give the Gauchos their third overtime victory in four matches on the season. Goalkeeper Ruth Milne proved to be extremely effective, posting 14 saves in the victory.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t beat them in regulation,” Nelson said. “But we’ll fix that next time.”
UCSB’s next match was against bitter rival CSUN. Having lost to the Matadors earlier in the year, Santa Barbara was desperate for revenge, but a hot Northridge offense kept them from winning.
CSUN opened strong and was leading 7-3 at half. Santa Barbara came out strong in the second half, but Northridge matched the Gauchos goal for goal and won the game 10-6 for its second consecutive victory over the UCSB.
The Gauchos’ next game was against tournament host Irvine and was a “must-win.” UCSB opened up strong as they jumped out to a 6-0 lead after the first quarter. Every shot seemed to find the back of the cage and the Gauchos could do no wrong. Santa Barbara believes it was their best quarter played all year.
“I seriously don’t know what happened,” Nelson said. “It was amazing.”
UCSB then closed out the game on a hot note, outscoring the Anteaters 4-1 in the final quarter. The win gave the Gauchos a big confidence boost, ending the tournament on a positive note.