The No. 10 UCSB women’s water polo team will travel to Thousand Oaks this weekend for the Posada Royale Invitational, a one-day tournament that will take place on Saturday. UCSB will play two games that day, the first against Occidental and the second against Azusa Pacific. The tournament will likely be something of a respite for the Gauchos, who played four teams in the top 20, and two in the top 10, last weekend at the UCI Invitational.
“We’re the highest ranked team in [the tournament],” Head Coach Cathy Neushul said. “It’s a good tournament to see what the players who don’t get to play as much can do.”
UCSB moved up from No. 15 to No. 10 after beating San Jose State and UC Davis, two of the top teams in the nation, last weekend. Both victories came by just one goal, but they were victories nonetheless. Occidental and Azusa Pacific may not be able to stand up to Davis or San Jose in terms of talent, but that does not mean that Neushul is taking them lightly.
“On paper these teams aren’t ranked, but any team can get you at any time,” Neushul said. “There’s really not that mush disparity between the No. 12 team and an unranked team.”
As always, the Gauchos will look for their entire team to contribute to the final score, even those who don’t usually play.
“Our scoring is pretty even, I think,” Neushul said. “I don’t really look at those stats, but I don’t think there’s anyone who’s really taken a big lead. Scoring is the product of 20 different things going right. The person who scores is just the recipient of those things.”
Santa Barbara has been on the road for the past eight games, making up the Triton and UCI Invitationals. Over the course of those eight games, they have faced many highly ranked teams, some who they have beaten and some who have beaten them. But to Neushul, those games were more than just wins and losses. They were the future of her team.
“We’ve played 19 of our 31 matches already before the conference starts,” Neushul said. “We’re just gaining experience exponentially. We played Davis and San Jose to four goal losses the first time we played them, and last time we beat them by one.”
Saturday’s games will be the last the Gauchos play on the road until April 14. Once they are finished in Thousand Oaks, they will return home to Santa Barbara to host their next nine games.
“It’s great to be home during that time because it’s during the heavy load of school,” Neushul said. “We’re in a nice location for the east coast schools to come to during their breaks. We get to stay tuned up.”
Saturday’s match against Occidental is set for 9:15 a.m. The second match against Azusa Pacific will tip off at 11:45 a.m.