The UCSB men’s water polo laid the smack-down against Long Beach State on Sunday to break a six-game losing streak to the 49ers.

The Gauchos desperately needed their 9-7 victory over LBSU after falling 11-7 at #4 UC Irvine the day before. The Anteaters led 10-3 heading into the final quarter of Saturday’s contest. UCI’s senior two-meter Jeff Powers and 6’9″ two-meter sophomore Dreason Barry combined for nine goals. Santa Barbara revved its game late, scoring four goals in the final quarter. Senior two-meter Steven Traverso notched three of UCSB’s final four goals.

“Irvine plays dirty all the time,” senior driver Doug Arthur said.

“UCI’s really physical,” senior driver David Letts said. “They made some cheap shots – knee-kicking and pulling suits.”

This painful loss might have been just what the team needed to get their act together. Players rolled into the match with #10 Long Beach State on Sunday armed with bitter enthusiasm.

The Gauchos trailed 2-0 for the first couple of minutes against the Niners until the seniors came through to take care of business. Traverso got UCSB going with a five-goal rampage in which the Gauchos nailed five of the next six goals scored in the game. Arthur scored four goals and defender/driver Anthony Borasi collected three. The team held onto an 8-2 lead for a good portion of the game.

“We really played well as a team – that hasn’t happened for a while,” Letts said.

The Gauchos shut down one of Long Beach’s best players, two-meter sophomore Erik Geoffroy, which helped open the door for a win. Freshman goalkeeper Sherwin Kim stepped up with five saves for UCSB, leaving the 49ers with only seven goals in 28 attempts. By comparison, Santa Barbara converted nine of eighteen shots.

The Gauchos are now ranked 14th with a 6-10 overall record. This standing could be improved if the team comes together with the intensity it played with in the Long Beach game.

“We came out slow in the Irvine game; I think that’s what hurt us,” sophomore driver Andrew Schoneberger said. “It could be that we played better because they faced a cleaner team. Long Beach actually has a record for playing rough, but they didn’t seem so this time.”

“Long Beach was not as physical [as UC Irvine], but they’re a good team,” Letts said.

The Gauchos proved against the 49ers that they have the offensive firepower needed to hold their own on the scoreboard. Now all that Santa Barbara needs lies in the solid defense they showcased in the same game.

This week, the Gauchos will prepare to travel to Stockton to battle Pacific on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m.

“Pacific’s pretty fast,” Schoneberger said. “We’ll need to work on counterattacks and concentrate on defense, but we’ll probably work on a little bit of everything this week.”

Hopefully, the Gauchos will come through and play with all the force used in the latest game.