The UCSB men’s water polo (10-8 overall, 1-4 Big West) team will head south to Irvine this weekend to take on the #5 Anteaters before the host #4 UCLA at Campus pool on Sunday.
“This is it,” senior utility Milos Golic said. “These next three weeks are everything that matters. We can forget about the past.”
The Gauchos have faced Irvine (15-6, 3-3) three times this season. Santa Barbara pulled off a dramatic 10-9 the first time. However, the Anteaters came out of top at Campus pool and then defeated UCSB once again at the Southern California Tournament.
As they have started the conference at 1-4, this win is extremely critical to Santa Barbra’s season.
“The most Important thing is to get us motivated,” Golic said. “We need to be the better team on Saturday.”
Fortunately for the Gauchos, the Anteaters have been struggling lately. The last time they played #3Stanford, they managed to score just two goals. Against #1 Cal, they allowed 11 unanswered goals.
“They have had a lot of setbacks in their last few games,” senior Goalie Fraser Bunn said. “It’s going to come down to whoever wants it more.
After their showdown in Orange County, UCSB must return home to face the #4 Bruins (16-4, 1-4). Santa Barbra has not faced UCLA yet this season, but is confident in their ability to beat them.
“We match up quite well with [UCLA],” Bunn said. “We need to come out and be physical against them.”
Golic beleievs the battle will come down to the bench and their ability to influence the game.
“UCLA has 16 equal guys all playing equal minutes,” Golic said. “They have a big bench so our bench has to do work.”
After having to play the top two teams at their respective pools, UCSB fortunately has home pool advantage against the Bruins.
“It will definitely, definitely make a difference,” Golic said. “Hopefully we will have a big crowd. We always do.”
Bunn adds to Golic’s enthusiasm, believing the home pool advantage could help.
“We got a really good chance at out pool,” Bunn said. “They don’t play in a small pool. [It] should be good.”
Having lost their last 3 games, UCSB is looking to snap their current streak. In that span, Golic, UCSB’s all time leading scorer, only has 3 goals. With his career winding down, he and the Gauchos hope he can re-find his form so the Gauchos can make a late season push.
Currently sitting at 1-4 in the Big West, UCSB has three remaining games in the Conference. If they win their remaining three games, they can finish 4-4 and receive a decent seed in the Conference Tournament. However, that all depends on UCSB finally achieving what they’re capable of.
“We need to step up and show what we have,” Golic said. “This is the time.