The NorCal Tournament provided a midseason test for a young UCSB men’s water polo squad.
The Gauchos won just one of their four games over the weekend in the prestigious tournament hosted by UC Berkeley, finishing twelfth. That result, however, may not be as discouraging as it may seem.
Sophomore two-meter Mark Welch, Santa Barbara’s most experienced player at the specialized position, did not play after breaking his thumb in a match earlier in the year. The silver lining on that dark cloud came in the form of added game time for other players.
“Everyone got a chance to develop a little more,” senior driver Doug Arthur said.
The Gauchos will use that experience to try to improve on a weekend in which they were outscored 37-26 over the four games.
“Our offense definitely needs to pick up, although we lacked at both ends,” redshirt freshman driver Conor Coughlan said.
The Gauchos’ lone win came over one of the nation’s most illustrious academic schools, Harvard. Santa Barbara won 11-3 playing a well-rounded game.
“I think [senior driver/defender] Anthony Borasi really provided good leadership,” Arthur said.
Borasi has been the team’s leader from day one, setting a good example in the locker room and backing it up with his play in the pool, ranking among the leaders in scoring for the Gauchos.
Santa Barbara faced host squad No. 4 Berkeley in their first game. The Bears handed UCSB a convincing 13-5 setback. The Gauchos also dropped games to UC San Diego and Princeton 9-4 and 12-6, respectively.
Looking back at the weekend, the Gauchos did not necessarily accomplish what they set out to do. They may, however, have made progress in ways they will not realize until much later.
“We were looking to improve our ranking,” Coughlan said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”
Arthur, however, was able to find a bright spot in an otherwise dismal weekend.
“We’re just looking to improve through every game, and I think we did that,” Arthur said.
In retrospect, the Gauchos may not have passed this first test with flying colors, but they know the future is still bright.