Attacker Shannon Moran looks for a pass. Christina DeMarzo/Daily Nexus

No. 9 UCSB women’s water polo team, 18-6 overall and 1-1 in conference play, will head to No. 22 Cal State Northridge this upcoming Saturday, where they will face the 13-15 Matadors.

Santa Barbara will look to get back in the win column, as it lost to No. 11 UC Davis in a heartbreaker, which snapped its win streak of five straight. Junior utility Sarah Snyder stuffed the stat sheet for the ‘Chos with four goals, two steals and one assist. With just 3:48 left in the final period, UC Davis was able to score two goals before time expired, winning the game by a final score of 11-10.  

Cal State Northridge has had an up-and-down year thus far and is currently on a three-game losing streak. The Matadors are led by junior utility Tori Wilson, who is coming off a hat trick in her most recent game, giving her a team-leading 57 goals on the year.

In its last matchup against No. 10 UC Irvine, CSUN was outscored by nine goals as it was unable to keep the Anteaters from finding the back of the net. Despite a strong effort from Wilson as well as junior utility Jennalyn Barthels, who netted two goals, the Matadors were unable to keep up with the high-powered offense of UC Irvine.

Even though CSUN has not had the year that they wanted, they are still a very dangerous team that is trying to develop the right habits in order to have a better season next year.

In order for the Gauchos to have success in this matchup, they will need to continue to have strong play from their two leaders on the offensive end, Snyder and freshman attacker Amanda Legaspi.

The duo has proved to be very effective for the Gauchos as they have consistently made an impact on the offensive side of the pool, whether by scoring goals or creating opportunities for their teammates.

Snyder, in particular, is having another fantastic season, as she has netted 56 goals, 5 assists and 15 steals. She has also provided veteran leadership to an extremely  young team that consists of nine freshmen and only two seniors.

Senior utility Kate Pipkin has also been a huge part of why UCSB has been so successful this year, as she has 34 goals and 23 assists this season. Her strong play has prevented opposing teams from double-teaming Snyder, allowing them both to have success.

Although some believed that it would take time for the team to develop the chemistry necessary to win games, the Gauchos have been able to find their rhythm behind strong teamwork and communication in the pool. This constant communication has led to an increase in steals and a decrease in fouls committed, which has kept the pressure off of their goalkeeper.

One of the major reasons Santa Barbara has been able to win the majority of its games this season has been its dramatically improved defense from a year ago. In their last six matchups, the Gauchos have only given up an average of eight goals per game.

This can also be attributed to the strong play of junior goalkeeper Kenzi Snyder, who leads the team with 132 saves on the year. It is clear that her confidence has grown since last year, which is showing in her improved results in front of the net.

Santa Barbara will look to get back on track this Saturday at Cal State Northridge, where they will match up against the Matadors at 12 p.m.