The #6 UCSB men’s water polo team (7-3 overall) continued its roll this weekend, wrapping up a two-game home stand with victories against Whittier College and #14 Concordia.
The Gauchos opened their weekend against Concordia and played relaxed through the first two quarters. UCSB was unable to get into a rhythm and appeared taken aback by the Eagles’ toughness and ability. The teams were level at the end of regulation, forcing overtime play.
Though they struggled in regulation, UCSB held a slight edge in overtime, as they have proven to thrive under pressure with a 9-1 record in overtime games during the last two years. Concordia came out strong in overtime, but the Gauchos refused to lose, as freshman driver Evan Dellinger scored the game-winner to put the final score at 9-8.
Despite the win, Santa Barbara was very disappointed in their overall performance. No one was more displeased than junior utility and returning First Team All-American Milos Golic. The “Serbian Sensation” leads UCSB with 20 goals, but was held scoreless against Concordia due to heavy defense directed his way.
“We should be concerned that we went into overtime with the number 14th ranked team,” Golic said. “We can’t dream of winning [the NCAA tournament] and come out like this.”
Santa Barbara had a mere hour to rest before its next game against Whittier. However, not even the flu that has come over 15 Gauchos on the squad could stop UCSB from winning this game. Santa Barbara came out firing against Whittier and outscored the Poets 5-1 in the first quarter. Golic scored two goals in the game, with goals also coming from sophomore 2-meter Noah Smith, freshman utility Brain Shoemaker, senior drivers Stefan Partelow and Sean Castillo and freshman driver Geng Wang.
Junior goalie Fraser Bunn, who leads the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Conference in saves, played the first half and only allowed two goals. Junior Goalie Russell Russo LeVasseur took over the net in the second half and allowed two quick goals to the Poets before settling down to aide the Santa Barbara victory. UCSB would go on to win 13-5 in a dominating fashion.
Although the weekend culminated with two more wins, Head Coach Wolf Wigo was also a little displeased.
“I don’t feel good [about going into overtime against Concordia],” Wigo said. “But I knew they were a strong team coming in.”
However, Wigo was content in his team’s ability to persevere in overtime once again.
“We have confidence in overtime,” Wigo said. “We know what to do and have had success. … and success breeds more success.”