The #10 UCSB men’s water polo team traveled north to Stanford University this weekend to compete in the annual Nor Cal Tournament and came away with mixed results.
The Gauchos finished10th overall in one of the toughest tournaments of the season. Santa Barbara competed in the two-day competition, dropping the first match to #7 UCLA 7-9 and then winning in the afternoon against Santa Clara University 8-7. On Sunday, UCSB knocked off #20 Davis 8-4 before dropping its final match of the tournament to Loyola Marymount 6-7. Cal beat Stanford 10-9 to capture first place the 2003 Tournament title.
“The team is a lot better than last year. Last year we weren’t even in the ball game, this year all the games were decided in the last period,” UCSB men’s water polo Head Coach Joe O’Brien said.
Santa Barbara’s first game on Saturday was against UCLA. Late in the contest, the score was thought to be tied at 8-8 but the referees’ decision to disallow a UCSB goal due to problems with the game clock cost the Gauchos a chance a victory.
“UCLA was definitely our toughest game, as a team we really came together and gave ourselves a charge to win, we played really well both offensively and defensively,” senior driver and captain Doug Arthur said.
Arthur was not alone in his views.
“We started out strong, even though we lost. UCLA gave us the momentum to win,” senior two-meter Steve Traverso said.
UCLA took home fifth place.
UCSB won its second game against Santa Clara by a single goal.
“It was an ugly game, but we kept fighting to the end,” O’Brien said.
On Sunday three of the Gauchos’ top players – junior driver Andrew Schoneberger, junior utility Brian Alexander and Arthur – were majored, abruptly ending their play in the tournament. As a result, the Gauchos looked to other sources for offensive firepower.
“The freshman really stepped up,” Traverso said.
After their victory against Davis, Santa Barbara squared off against Loyola in the ninth place game. At half time, Loyola led 5-1 but pride kicked in and by the fourth quarter the score was tied 6-6. Loyola eventually squeezed it out in overtime 6-7.
“The highlight of this weekend was when we came back and tied Loyola. We are a second half team and we finished strong,” Traverso said.
“We took a tough loss in overtime, but we are looking forward to playing them at home,” O’Brien said.
The Gauchos will have a chance at revenge against Loyola as the two squads meet at UCSB’s RecCen Pool at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
“For the first time in a few years in the Nor Cal Tournament we came out charged. I’m proud of the team; we gave it our all,” Arthur said.