The UCSB women’s water polo team found a lot to smile about following their wrap of a successful opening weekend. The No. 15 Gauchos defeated CSU Bakersfield 13-10 on Friday before demolishing Cal State San Bernardino 20-3 in their Saturday matchup.

The women’s squad returns to Campus Pool with a 2-0 record for this weekend’s UCSB Winter Invite tournament.

“The amount of learning that went on in [Saturday’s] game was tremendous,” Head Coach Cathy Neushul said. “Every quarter, we got better and better and better.”

Indeed, that seemed to be the case as UCSB tallied 5-2 and 5-1 quarters in the first half before completely shutting down San Bernardino the rest of the way. Twelve different Santa Barbara players scored goals in the match, highlighting the depth of the squad.

“We never want to go into a game overlooking any opponents or anything like that,” senior utility Rachel Nelson said. “The subs did really great, so the starters got to sit on the bench for the rest of the time and watch the show.”

The scoring disparity of Friday’s match against Bakersfield was less drastic than in Saturday’s game, but the Gauchos were able to overcome any first game jitters to pull out the victory. Nelson and freshman utility Samantha Murphy led UCSB with four and three goals, respectively.

“It was a great start,” Murphy said. “There’s things we can work on, which is good, but we were pretty happy with the outcome.”

Neushul also shared a similar sentiment about the team’s performance.

“We played together well; we had a pretty good lead [in the first half],” Neushul said. “There was a lot of learning that went on exponentially throughout the game, so it was a really good first game for us.”

Looking ahead, the women’s water polo team will host the UCSB Winter Invite this weekend with seven scheduled matches, including two against high profile opponents in UCLA and Arizona State. UCLA finished 2012 ranked No. 1 while Arizona State placed No. 5 in the national rankings. 

This article is an online exclusive and did not appear in any print edition of the Nexus.