The #7 UCSB men’s water polo team (12-12 overall) concluded its 2010 season with a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Conference Tournament.
“I failed to do what I wanted to do,” Senior utility Milos Golic said. “I didn’t win a championship. I have failed. This is the biggest failure of my life for sure.”
Over the course of the weekend tournament, the Gauchos dropped their first match 10-2 to #2 USC (25-2 overall) before defeating # 6 Pacific 8-5 in the first consolation match. In the final consolation match to determine the fifth-place finisher, the team lost 16-12 to #5 Irvine (19-9 overall).
The losses brought the Gauchos to 2-7 in November to close the season.
On Sunday, Irvine outscored UCSB 10-6 in the second half. The teams each scored six goals in the first, but the Anteaters took advantage of the Gauchos’ sloppy second-half defense to defeat them for the third time this season.
Against #6 Pacific, a team that had defeated the Gauchos 8-7 on Nov. 7, UCSB was tied 4-4 heading into the fourth quarter when they outscored the Tigers 4-1 to close out the match.
The team opened the tournament with the seventh seed against USC, who shut Gauchos out and held an 8-0 lead after the first three quarters of play. UCSB managed to score a pair of goals in the fourth, but the lead the Trojans built was insurmountable.
USC absolutely demolished us,” freshman driver Matt Gronow said. “We we’re outplayed in every part of the game. It was really one sided.”
UCSB’s first-round loss eliminated the team from NCAA tournament contention, ending its hopes for a national championship that it held since the beginning of the season.
“We we’re just playing for pride,” Gronow said. “It’s hard to play two more games after our NCAA hopes we crushed.”
For the team that began the year with NCAA aspirations, the final result was disappointing.
As a senior, Golic, widely considered one of the best water polo players in the country, was especially disappointed to end his career.
“I’m sad that a big part of my life is over,” Golic said. “I have to get together with myself and move on.”
The 2010 season will be looked upon as a year of underachievement. The Gauchos entered the year with hopes of winning the NCAA championship, earning big wins against #3 Stanford and #5 Irvine. The team even gave USC a difficult time at UCLA’s SoCal tournament on Oct. 3, losing the match 7-6 after carrying a 6-4 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“I’m ready to move on,” Zsombor Vincze said. “I’m going to miss the group, but I’m ready to move on…I hope they do better next year.”