The UCSB men’s water polo team finished regular season Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play with a 12-10 loss to Long Beach State on Saturday, failing to take advantage of a halftime lead.
The Gauchos have now lost five straight games and seven out of their last eight to drop their record to 15-10 overall and 1-7 in conference. Long Beach, meanwhile, improved to 22-7 overall with a 4-4 MPSF record.
In Saturday’s game against Long Beach, the scoring began right away with goals from sophomore 2-meter Nick Tomasello and senior captain and utility player Brian Shoemaker.
The 49ers responded right back with a string of three goals to take the lead 3-2. A goal from sophomore attacker Eric Van and de Mortel and another from Tomasello put UCSB right back in the lead beforean eventual 4-4 tie entering the second period.
“We did a lot of things really well, but we had some break downs defensively on the counterattacks,” Van de Mortel said. “I think they ran their drop on the weak side well, but we were just missing a lot of our opportunities.”
Early in the second quarter, Tomasello completed a hat trick with his third goal of the game. In the minutes just before halftime the 49ers added another goal, but UCSB answered with goals from junior attacker Matt Gronow and sophomore attacker Derek Shoemaker.
“We had a strong first half, we got up in transition just about every time we got a stop, but we struggled to get stops on our five on six defense,”Derek Shoemaker said.
Despite leading 7-6 at halftime, the Gauchos were held scoreless for the third quarter. The 49ers, on the other hand, received three goals to take a 9-7 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Long Beach stormed out of the gate in the fourth quarter with three goals to prevent any chance of a UCSB comeback. Derek Shoemaker and Gronow would add late goals but the Gauchos ran out of time and lost 12-10.
“I think for the most part we outplayed them, but once again our five man defense in the first half was pretty poor and then we let them score some easy goals down the stretch,” senior goalkeeper Myles Christian said. “Still a pretty disappointing loss, but fortunately it doesn’t affect our ranking or seed in the tournament.”
Gronow and Tomasello led the Gauchos in scoring with three goals apiece and Christian recorded another double-digit save game with 12.
In its next game, UCSB will travel to USC for the MPSF tournament to play the undefeated No. 1 Trojans in the first round on Friday.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of November 19th, 2012’s print edition of the Nexus.