The No. 4 USCB men’s water polo team dropped to 15-9 overall and 1-5 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation with losses to No. 5 Pacific and No. 4 Cal over the weekend. After starting the season 14-3, the Gauchos have now lost six of their last seven games in the MPSF.
“We might have got a little over confident after the first couple of weeks of the season,” junior guard Dylan Baliani said. “Overconfidence can be an athlete’s best friend and worst enemy. I feel like we peaked at the beginning of the season, whereas other teams have continued to get better throughout the season.”
On Saturday, UCSB jumped out to an early lead with a goal from Baliani. The Tigers answered with two goals of their own, one from the MPSF’s leading scorer, Balazs Erdelyi, and one from Kevin Oliveira.
After a close first period, UCSB struggled on defense in the second quarter. The Tigers managed to outscore the Gauchos 6-1 in the period. Sophomore attacker Eric Van de Mortel scored his 24th goal of the season, as the Gaucho’s entered half time trailing 8-2.
“University of Pacific is always a hard pool to play at, and on top of that, we didn’t have the best second quarter,” senior captain and goalkeeper Myles Christian said. “We gave up quite a few counter attack goals.”
Coming out of halftime, Erdelyi scored his third goal of the game with 6:54 left in the third quarter. Minutes later, UCSB’s sophomores Brendan McElroy and Van de Mortel each added a goal to cut the lead down to 9-4. Before the end of the third quarter, Pacific increased its lead to 11-4 with two unanswered goals.
The fourth quarter began with junior attacker Evan Dellinger scoring his 41st goal of the season. Pacific would add another goal in the closing minutes, going on to upset UCSB 12-5.
“We had great looks against Pacific, but could not put away our opportunities,” sophomore attacker Derek Shoemaker said. “You have to give Pacific credit, they were shooting the lights out and they were the better team that day.”
UCSB traveled to face Cal on Sunday. The Golden Bears opened the scoring early in the first quarter, but seconds later, Van de Mortel continued his hot offensive play with another goal to tie the game at 1-1.
After Cal scored two goals, the Gauchos charged back with three additional goals from sophomore utility Nick Tomasello, junior attacker Matt Gronow, and Baliani to take a 4-3 lead. Cal took an eventual 7-6 lead into halftime.
The third quarter began with an early goal from the Gauchos’ junior two-meter Teddy Zhang to tie the game up at 7-7. Soon after that, Cal blew the game wide open with a string of four unanswered goals, taking an 11-7 lead. When the final second ticked off the clock, UCSB lost 13-9.
The Gauchos will face Long Beach State for its final MPSF regular season game on Saturday at Campus Pool at 12 p.m.
A version of this article appeared on page 10 of November 13th, 2012’s print edition of the Nexus.