Last week at the annual Nor Cal Tournament, tenth ranked UCSB lost to ninth ranked Loyola Marymount 6-7 in overtime but this weekend Santa Barbara sought revenge at home.
The UCSB men’s water polo team beat Loyola Marymount 9-7 on Saturday at the RecCen Pool in its first home match of the 2003 season. The victory improves UCSB’s record to 10-7. Junior utility Brian Alexander scored seven of the Gauchos’ nine goals while junior driver Andrew Schoneberger and senior driver and captain Doug Arthur added a goal apiece. Freshman goalie Rick Wright recorded saves to secure the win. The Gauchos started the game slowly but quickly rebounded.
“We came out sluggish,” Arthur said.
For the first two and a half quarters the Gauchos were treading water, down 5-2.
“At half time we addressed our weakness and started to play better,” UCSB Head Coach Joe O’Brien said.
By the fourth quarter the team had tied the game 6-6.
“We stepped it up and took it to them, we really out played them,” Arthur said. “It was a nice redemption.”
Santa Barbara played steadfast defense, which a major reason why the Gauchos forced overtime.
“In overtime our defense started getting fast breaks, we did a great job of controlling the ball,” O’Brien said.
UCSB’s comeback win is an important step for the Gauchos. Santa Barbara has played many close matches this season against some of the top teams in the nation, sometimes losing in the final minutes or in overtime.
“I’m really proud of the outcome. We finally found our groove,” Alexander said.
In overtime, Schoneberger sent the ball to Alexander who finished the ball to put the Gauchos up by one in overtime. Of the eight attempts fired, Alexander drained seven, capping one of the best offensive performances of the entire season.
“The one attempt was a tip out, so it stayed in our possession,” O’Brien said. “Brian was MVP of this game.”
The rest of the squad couldn’t agree more with the O’Brien about Alexander’s stellar play.
“Brian was on fire,” Arthur said. “We are so proud of him, he stepped it up and kept us in the game.”
Santa Barbara enjoyed play at home for the first time this season. The Gauchos had played all 16 games on the road prior to the win over the Lions.
“It is fun getting in front of the home crowd, not having to travel,” Arthur said.
Santa Barbara plays Friday at 3 p.m. against Santa Cruz at the RecCen Pool before traveling north to face off against Stanford on Saturday at noon.