The No. 6 UCSB men’s water polo team traveled south to play four games over the weekend, capturing four impressive victories in the process and improving the Gauchos’ record to 11-2 on the season.
This is following a sixth-place finish in the Nor Cal Tournament last weekend, where UCSB went 2-2.
In the first game against Cal Lutheran, UCSB got off to a fast start. In the first period alone, the Gauchos scored six times while shutting out the opposition.
Sophomore Chris Whitelegge led UCSB’s strong defense with five saves as goalkeeper. As a team, UCSB locked it down, limiting Cal Lutheran to 15 shots and no goals in the game. In the end, Santa Barbara came away with a dominant 17-0 victory.
After the Cal Lutheran matchup, UCSB traveled from Thousand Oaks to El Toro High School in Orange County to take on No. 11 Concordia. Things got a little dicey towards the end, but UCSB was able to come away with a close 12-7 victory.
“They put the pressure on us, but we adjusted and scored three straight to end the game,” junior Derek Shoemaker said. “It wasn’t our best game of the year, but we pulled off a win against a strong team.”
Friday’s doubleheader victory gave the Gauchos some momentum as they headed into the conclusion of the weekend’s contests. Saturday featured two more matches in San Diego before UCSB headed home.
UCSD was first up on Saturday, and the Gauchos wasted no time getting ahead. In the first two minutes, UCSB scored two goals from Shoemaker and sophomore Nicholas Jordan.
It was a high-scoring first quarter, with the Gauchos maintaining their edge at 5-4. Whitelegge again stepped up on the defensive end, leading UCSB with 10 saves and willing the Gauchos to an 11-7 victory.
The victory over UCSD was the second of the season for the Gauchos, previously defeating the Tritons 16-7 back on Sept. 21 in the first game of the Nor Cal Tournament.
“We traveled to San Diego and played UCSD in their home pool and put together another solid game,” Shoemaker said. “Chris played a very good game in the cage and we had many guys step up on offense.”
In the final game of the weekend, UCSB stayed in San Diego to play Navy. The match was close early, with the two teams battling to a 3-3 tie at the end of the first quarter. The Gauchos created some separation in the second quarter thanks to their keeper, who shut down the Tritons to give UCSB a 6-3 advantage.
The offense took off in the second half, putting up seven goals in the third quarter. UCSB maintained control for the rest of the game, finishing with a 16-7 win. Senior Matt Gronow led the way with four goals for the Gauchos.
Navy was the first team Santa Barbara has faced this season that hails from outside California.
After finishing the week 4-0, the season continues for UCSB on Oct. 12 with the SoCal Tournament in Irvine, California.
UCSB will next host an Alumni Game on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 1 p.m. in Campus Pool.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of September 30, 2013′s print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Photo by Magali Gauthier of The Daily Nexus.