Kicking its season off as the hosts for the UCSB Winter Invite, the No. 16 UCSB women’s water polo team began its year with a 2-5 start this past weekend.
After the Gauchos’ solid start to the year quickly turned into a tough five game losing streak, their opening weekend finale against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps proved to be their best performance thus far. Santa Barbara scored five more goals than its previous season-high of seven on its way to a 12-7 victory Sunday afternoon.
Just hours prior to their second win of the season on Sunday, Santa Barbara was outmatched by both No. 3 UCLA and No. 12 UC San Diego as its losing streak continued. The Gauchos were outmatched against the Bruins, giving up a season-high 14 goals on their way to a 14-6 loss. They also fell to the Tritons by a score of 11-7.
On Saturday, UCSB suffered its worst defeat at the hands of No. 5 Cal, being outscored in every quarter. After the Bears got out to a quick 4-0 lead after the first quarter, sophomore utility Samantha Murphy scored the Gauchos’ first goal of the game to cut the lead to three. However, the Bears answered back with four more consecutive goals heading into halftime.
Going into the third quarter with a large deficit, sophomore attacker Bryn Hudson gave the Gauchos their second goal of the match. Cal answered with three goals of its own, taking a dominant 11-2 lead into the final period. Junior utility Lauren Martin was one of the few bright spots for UCSB during the game, scoring two goals in the fourth quarter, but the Gauchos were outplayed once again and finally fell 14-4.
Playing No. 5 Arizona State early on Saturday, Santa Barbara came out strong with Martin scoring the game’s opening goal. The Sun Devils answered with three goals of their own, but freshman attacker Carly Christian scored two straight before the end of the first period, making it a one-goal deficit at 4-3 heading into the second.
The Gauchos again started the second quarter strong as Hudson scored first to tie it at four goals apiece, but Arizona State began to pull away with another three consecutive scores heading into the half.
In the second half, UCSB found goals from freshman attacker Jenna Solberg and Murphy, but the team was unable to pull off the comeback and lost 11-6 for its second-straight loss.
Against No. 8 San Jose State Friday afternoon, the Gauchos’ offense got off to a slow start. UCSB was shutout in the first quarter but its strong defense kept them in the game by giving up only one goal.
Just after the second quarter began, Hudson tied the game at 1-1. As they did multiple times over the weekend, though, the Gauchos gave up three consecutive goals to the Spartans and went into the half trailing 4-1.
To have any shot at coming back, UCSB needed a big second half, and it got one. Martin scored two goals, including one coming off of a set, and Christian added another to give the Gauchos three in the quarter and head into the fourth trailing 6-4.
In a tightly contested fourth quarter, UCSB took the game down to the wire. Hudson scored her second goal, and Martin scored two more to bring her total to four on the day. Still trailing 8-7, Christian tied the game.
However, with just 1:11 remaining, San Jose State was able to beat sophomore goalkeeper Mackenzie Brokaw and come away with a 9-8 victory. Brokaw ended the game with eight saves.
In their first game of the season, the Gauchos were brought down to earth quickly as they gave up a goal just 15 seconds into the match. Sophomore utility Jessie Porter answered back to tie it at one and Christian scored her first career goal to give her team the lead.
Before the end of the half, Christian contributed her second goal of the match while sophomore utility Michelle Dunn and freshman utility Megan Linder also scored to give UCSB a 5-3 lead at the half. In the third, Martin scored once more to make it 6-3.
The Gauchos were able to hold on in a low-scoring fourth quarter, ending the game with a 7-6 win and their first of the season.
UCSB gets next weekend off before heading on the road for the UCSD Triton Invite on Saturday.
This article is an online exclusive and did not appear in the print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Photo by Peter Vandenbelt of The Daily Nexus.