2012 Women’s Water Polo Season Opens Thursday

Molly Hafferkamp
Molly Hafferkamp

• The Schedule
Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012
No. 17 UCSB at Cal State Monterey Bay, 3:00 p.m. 

Friday, Jan. 20, 2012
No. 17 UCSB at Santa Clara, 3:30 p.m. 

Spartan Invitational
Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012
No. 17 UCSB vs. No. 16 UC Davis, 10:30 a.m.
No. 17 UCSB at No. 5 San Jose State, 2:15 p.m. 

Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012
No. 17 UCSB vs. Fraser Valley (Exhibition), 8:00 a.m.
No. 17 UCSB vs. No. 2 Cal, 1:00 p.m. 

• This Week in Water Polo
The UC Santa Barbara women's water polo team opens its 2012 campaign this Thursday at Cal State Monterey Bay. The Gauchos will play the Otters before heading to Santa Clara on Friday for a single game with the Broncos. On Saturday and Sunday, UCSB will play in the Spartan Invitational at San Jose State. The Gauchos will face UC Davis, SJSU, the Canadian National Team in an exhibition match and Cal during the two-day affair. 

• The Roster
UCSB returns 13 letterwinners from last season's squad, which posted a 16-13 overall record. Nine freshmen have been added to the roster to help fill the gaps left by the 2011 graduating class.

• Neushul Takes the Reigns
Cathy Neushul, who spent three seasons as the Gauchos' assistant coach, has assumed head coaching duties for UCSB this season. As an assistant to Wolf Wigo, she helped lead the team to a 51-37 three-year record.

• Leading The Pack
After graduating its top four scorers from its 2011 campaign – Kathryn Nelson, Claire Buchanan, Christie Clark and Kristin Kulakowski – UCSB will be looking to a new group to step-up in 2012. The top returning scorers are junior Rachel Nelson and sophomore Molly Hafferkamp, who each tallied 19 goals in 2011. Shelby Haroldson and Kacey Creek, who both had 18 goals, will add further depth to the team during their junior seasons.

• Last Line of Defense
Two-time All-Big West goalkeeper Ruth Milne returns to anchor the Gaucho defensive effort. The junior is already on the brink of setting a new UCSB career saves record; she is just eight away from tying Yvonne Conard's school-record of 595. 

• On The Horizon
Following this weekend's six-game road swing, the Gauchos will return home to host Arizona State and Concordia in a doubleheader on Friday, Jan. 27 at noon and 3:30 p.m., respectively. The following day, action at the 2012 UCSB Winter Invite will get underway.