The youthful and inexperienced UCSB men’s water polo team has withstood the short end of an up-and-down season.
The Gauchos’ emotional roller coaster continued with a 10-5 road loss to the University of Pacific on Saturday. Santa Barbara scored first on an early goal by freshman defender Ian Christensen, yet the Tigers came back for three unanswered goals.
“Pacific brought the intensity right out of the gate,” senior driver Doug Arthur said. “We played right into their game plan.”
The Gauchos (6-11, 0-3 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) cut the lead to 3-2 after a second period goal by Arthur. The Tigers responded again, scoring three more goals to take a 6-2 lead at halftime. Pacific (7-9, 2-2) led by as many as six goals, outscoring UCSB in each of the first three periods.
Sophomore driver Andrew Schoneberger led the way for the Gauchos with two goals while freshman driver Ramiro Saldain notched a goal of his own. Pacific goalkeeper Laurie Trettel stopped nine of the 14 shots on goal to shut down Santa Barbara.
Saturday’s unfortunate defeat comes after a 9-7 victory over Long Beach State on Oct. 13.
The last two matches would appear to be a split for UCSB, but the Long Beach game did not constitute a conference game. Therefore, the Gauchos remains winless in the MPSF, something they are looking to change. With games against University of California-Berkeley and LBSU at home coming up, they are optimistic. In fact, six of the final seven regular season games are will be at Campus Pool.
“If we can neutralize Cal’s counter we can beat them,” Arthur said. “We match up well against Long Beach, and we already know we can beat them.”
California was ranked third in the nation before a 4-3 loss to #2 UCLA on Sunday. The Golden Bears dropped to 9-4 on the season and are currently 2-2 record in the conference.
Santa Barbara will have another advantage in Christensen, who is quietly turning into an offensive star in his first year.
“[Christensen] didn’t even start at the beginning of the year, but he’s become one of our best scorers,” Arthur said.