The newly-ranked No. 2 UCSB men’s water polo team moved to 14-3 overall this season with two nonconference wins against Iona and Harvard on Sunday.
Relative to their success in last weekend’s SoCal tournament, the Gauchos struggled defensively against their unranked opponents this week, winning 15-8 and 16-12.
“We were still on a high from the SoCal tournament and we kind of let off the gas against Iona and Harvard,” junior attacker Evan Dellinger said. “We allowed some goals, but now it’s time to learn and focus on Stanford.”
In the first game, Iona drew first blood with a goal, but the Gauchos responded with goals by sophomore Brendan McElroy, junior Evan Dellinger and junior Matt Gronow to lead 5-2 after the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Gaels began to chip away at the lead, but another goal by Dellinger kept UCSB up 8-6 at halftime.
The Gauchos started the third quarter with three unanswered goals, which put the game out of reach. When the final seconds ticked off the clock, Dellinger had logged a hat trick and senior goalkeeper Myles Christian had nine saves. The Gaels were never out of the game, but the Gauchos held control of the game by continuing to put the ball in the net. With the loss, Iona falls to 6-13 on the season, ending a four-day west coast road trip in which the Gaels played seven games and finished with a 3-4 record.
“We played great offense, but we know we can play better defense,” junior two-meters guard Dylan Baliani said.
In the second game against Harvard, UCSB came out firing on all cylinders and took a 7-1 first-quarter lead. Sophomore Eric Van de Mortel led the UCSB offensive charge with a hat trick of his own.
The Gauchos led at halftime 10-4, but in the third quarter, Harvard freshman Noah Harrison scored three goals compared to the Gauchos’ two. In the fourth quarter the Crimson never gave up, scoring five goals in the quarter, but it was not enough as UCSB answered every time and eventually won 16-12.
Harvard fell to 12-11 for the year and has lost six matches in a row. The Crimson concluded a five-game west coast road trip spanning over three days, finishing with an 0-5 record.
The Gauchos must now look past these wins and gear up for another big game against No. 5 Stanford in its first conference match of the season. UCSB begins play against the Cardinal this Saturday at Campus Pool at 12 p.m.