No. 11 ranked UCSB women’s water polo team wrapped up their season this past weekend with an overall record of 22-8, 3-2 in conference play, as well as finished third place in the Big West.
After having an up and down year last season where they only won 16 games, Santa Barbara was able to rack up six more wins. They were able to win the close games that they had lost the season prior behind strong leadership from their seniors.
Senior utility Kate Pipkin, who made 1st team all conference, was instrumental for the ‘Chos as she tallied 40 goals, 29 assists, and 18 steals. One thing that cannot be overlooked was Pipkin’s ability to playmake for her teammates. This kept opposing defenses from being able to double team as UCSB would almost always make the extra pass.
On that note, senior attacker Sarah Kreiser also had a season to remember as she was able to score 32 goals as well as 26 assists, earning her 2nd team all conference. Her consistency was crucial to the success of UCSB this year as she had numerous well-timed goals to either give her squad the edge or put the game out of reach for their opponent.
For junior utility Sarah Snyder, next year will be her final season where she will look to build upon her impressive numbers this year. Snyder netted a team high 65 goals along with seven assists. Although she is nearly impossible to stop on the offensive side of the pool, one aspect that she will look to improve on will be her playmaking with the departure of Pipkin.
There is a lot to be excited about for the gauchos as they return the majority of their starters for next year. Moreover, there will be opportunities for the younger players to take on a bigger role as well. Junior utility Caitlyn Snyder will look to take on one of those roles, following her impressive freshman season. Snyder, who is Sarah Snyder’s younger sister, finished with 27 goals and 30 assists.
Another highlight for the ‘Chos was the play of their goalkeepers. Both sophomore Becca Buck and junior Kenzi Snyder shared time in front of the cage and combined for a total of 250 saves. The dynamic duo has grown a tremendous amount of confidence which will undoubtedly carry over to next year.
UCSB will look to build upon their successful season with the hopes that they will finally win the Big West Conference. In order for them to do so, they will need to further develop their chemistry from this year.
Many of their losses this season have been extremely close which is a sign that if they learn from their mistakes, they will be able to win those similar situations next season. Since the Big West Conference is extremely competitive, it will be crucial for Santa Barbara to have a strong offseason.
If there is one area that UCSB will look to improve, it will be their movement when their offensive sets are not yielding results. There were times throughout the season where they would be in a drought offensively and would be unable to break out of it. By continuing to move whether that be by cutting or setting screens, this will create more opportunities for shots on goal.
UCSB will look to build upon their successful season as they aim to win the Big West next season with an experienced group that is ready to take the next step.