The #6 UCSB men’s water polo team (10-8 overall, 1-4 MPSF) had its worst road trip all season, culminating in losses to #1 Cal and #7 Pacific.
“We can only blame ourselves,” senior utility Zsombor Vincze said. “We had our opportunities and didn’t use them.”
After losing to Berkeley on Saturday, the Gauchos traveled to Stockton to face the Pacific Tigers (14-8, 2-3). The Gauchos cruised to a 9-5 victory over the Tigers at the Northern California Invitational earlier this year, but this game would prove considerably more difficult, including four tie scores and five lead changes throughout.
Pacific initiated the scoring, finding the back of the cage just 17 seconds into the game. However, Vincze notched a goal of his own seconds later to even the score at one. The rest of the half would continue in a similar fashion as the teams stayed even, resulting in a 3-3 score at the half.
The Tigers finally broke away in the third quarter, outscoring UCSB 3-2. Pacific took a 6-4 lead after scoring back-to-back goals before the Gauchos managed to score with just ten seconds left to make the score 6-5 at the end of the quarter, putting pressure on both squads heading into the fourth quarter. The UCSB offense produced two goals, but the defense could not prevent the Tigers from finding the back of the cage, resulting in an 8-7 loss.
“They were more motivated,” Vincze said. “They wanted it more, they had the fire.”
#1 Berkeley (17-2, 5-0) came out swinging against the Gauchos, putting up a quick 2-0 lead in the first quarter. However, UCSB responded with goals from freshman driver Matt Gronow and freshman center back Lazar Komadinic.
Once again the Golden Bears showed their muster, rifling off another two goals before the period would end.
The Gauchos looked intent on staging a comeback, with sophomore utility Brian Shoemaker finding the back of the cage for a 4-3 lead, but Berkeley’s offense hit another gear, scoring four goals in the second quarter to take an 8-4 lead into half.
Down four goals, UCSB was unable to swim its way out of the hole, allowing Cal to post four more goals while the Gauchos’ offense could produce just one.
“It’s pretty obvious it was an easy game for them,” Vincze said. “They were better and dominated the whole game in a nutshell.”
One of the reasons the comeback was stopped short was Santa Barbara‘s psyche as the Golden Bears offense seemed to score right after Santa Barbara did.
“Every time we scored, they scored right after,” Vincze said. “Psychologically, it’s a downer for the whole team.”
Vincze and Gronow led the scoring for the weekend with three goals a piece. A notable absence from the scoring sheet was senior Milos Golic. Golic currently leads the team in goals and is the all-time leading scorer for UCSB.
The Gauchos head to UC Irvine next, taking on the Anteaters in another conference match on Saturday.