The #10 UCSB men’s water polo team spent the weekend playing the role of David attempting to slay the Goliaths of water polo. In both cases, the Gauchos came up short.

On Saturday, UCSB traveled to Malibu to take on #3 Pepperdine in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation showdown. Santa Barbara almost upset the Waves on their home turf. On Sunday, the Gauchos fell to Stanford 9-5 at Campus Pool.

The first two quarters were seesaw battles as the Gauchos and Waves battled to a 2-2 tie after two quarters of play. Junior driver Doug Arthur and freshman driver Andrew Schoneberger scored the goals for UCSB.

In the third quarter, the Gauchos took an early 3-2 lead with a goal from senior co-captain and utility Tom Coughlan, and the game seemed to be heading in the Gauchos’ favor. Then Pepperdine came roaring back with three straight goals to take a commanding 5-3 lead into the fourth and final quarter.

Instead of throwing in the towel, the Gauchos made a game of it by scoring two goals in the final period to tie the game up at 5-5 and sending the game into overtime. The two scores came from Coughlan and junior two-meter Patrick Treman.

But as has been the case all season, after scrapping their way back from deficits, the Gauchos were unable to score in overtime while Waves freshman utility Jesse Smith boosted his team to a final game score of 6-5.

In games decided by one goal, the Gauchos are 0-4 this year. As always, senior All-American goalie Trevor Spence was a rock in front of the net, getting 10 saves in the losing effort.

On Sunday, in front of an overflowing Campus Pool crowd of over one hundred people, the Gauchos took on the #1 Cardinal. Stanford came into the match undefeated and armed with freshman Tony Azevedo, considered the best water polo player in the nation. Despite the 9-5 loss, Santa Barbara treated the fans to a hard-fought battle, in which a few miscues in the third period ultimately cost the Gauchos the game. Aside from the lapse of concentration in the third period, the match was a fierce and close battle.

Stanford jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first quarter, but Santa Barbara struck back with a goal by Schoneberger to cut the lead in half at the end of the first quarter. Stanford jumped further ahead of UCSB in the second period by getting two quick goals for a 4-1 advantage. Just like the game against Pepperdine, the Gauchos scratched and clawed their way back, getting two scores by Coughlan and Treman. The goals sent the crowd into a frenzy, with Santa Barbara pulling to within one goal.

In the third quarter, any reason to celebrate was quickly wiped away by three consecutive goals by the Cardinal. After trading goals with Stanford, making the score 5-4, Stanford took advantage of errant UCSB passes and ripped off three straight goals to lead 8-4. The Gauchos were unable to recover after the Cardinal onslaught and traded a goal apiece in the fourth quarter to end the match.

Despite the lapse in the third quarter, UCSB still remained upbeat in its performance against the nation’s top squads.

“We played well. It’s just that we have had spells of bad play that lead to our demise,” junior playmaker Kyle Ashley said.

The Gauchos’ brutalizing defense was able to keep Stanford’s top player, Azevedo, under wraps for most of the match, but he scored in the clutch with two of the three goals in the third quarter.

“Tony Azevedo came through – that’s all that can be said,” Spence said.

The Gauchos will now try to regroup in practice while preparing for their final home match next week on Oct. 28 at 1:00 p.m. against #6 Long Beach State. The 49ers happen to be coached by Azevedo’s dad, Rick.

“Hopefully, we can have some good practices and be prepared for Long Beach,” Spence said. “We have to continue to work hard and the wins will come.”