The No. 16 UCSB women’s water polo team dropped its final match of the season Friday against conference rival No. 14 CSU Northridge, 13-9. With the loss, the Gauchos conclude their season with an overall 19-13 record and the sixth seed in next weekend’s Big West Championship.
Friday’s matchup featured two ranked teams looking to secure a coveted fifth seed in the Big West Tournament. UCSB freshman utility Samantha Murphy notched the first point of the game for the Gauchos, however, Northridge would respond with three goals in the first quarter to take a 3-2 lead.
The second period featured an aggressive Matador attack that countered another two goals from Murphy. Though Santa Barbara was able to come within a goal of a tie, Northridge muscled out two late goals to build a 7-4 lead at the half.
The Gauchos put up a strong front in the third quarter with an attack led by two goals from senior defender Kasey Creek. Four scores by UCSB propelled Santa Barbara to within a two-point margin leading into the fourth quarter, however Northridge came to life in the final period.
CSUN sophomore defender Kelcie Ferreira took the game in her hands in the fourth quarter scoring all three Northridge goals in the period. Ferreira, along with junior attacker Lindsy Nelson, tallied four goals each in Friday’s contest to lead their team.
Defensively, the Matadors were able to hold the Gauchos to one final score in the last quarter to secure a win in their season finale. While Santa Barbara finished one victory short of its 20-win season last year, the Gauchos improved from last season’s winning percentage with a .594 mark over 2012’s .574 winning percentage.
UCSB heads into the Big West Tournament coming off three recent losses; however, Santa Barbara will face No. 8 San Diego State Aztecs in the first round, a team that the Gauchos upset quite recently.
This tournament will be the last for seniors Ruth Milne, Shelby Haroldson, Rachel Nelson and Creek, who have had a strong presence on this year’s water polo squad. Murphy finished the season with 69 goals, ranking third in the Big West.
The Gauchos’ bid for a spot in the NCAA Championship will be contingent on the outcome of the Big West Tournament.
UCSB will head to Irvine Friday for the Big West Championships.
A version of this article appeared on page 10 of April 22nd’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
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