This weekend, the UCSB men’s water polo team played two games to begin the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation season, and so far they are off to a rough start. Santa Barbara lost to fifth ranked UCLA on Saturday, 12-6, and to third ranked Pepperdine on Sunday, 12-7.
On Saturday the Gauchos went to UCLA and came out strong in the first quarter, squashing the notion that they are just a second half team.
“We started out the game more focused than usual,” junior utility Brian Alexander said.
UCSB ended the first quarter with a lead of 3-1. By halftime UCLA and UCSB were neck and neck at 3-3. In the second half, UCLA came out on fire and scored nine goals on ninth ranked UCSB.
“We just didn’t execute the plays, we didn’t have the same intensity,” junior driver Andrew Schoneberger said.
The Gauchos could not maintain their game and were overtaken by UCLA’s fast breaks.
“We had a chance to bring it back within a goal, we were very inconsistent,” UCSB Head Coach Joe O’Brien said.
Alexander agreed that the team needed to be more consistent,
“If we would have played 28 minutes of good water polo, we could beat most of these better teams,” Alexander said.
Senior Steve Traverso, Schoneberger and Alexander all scored goals.
In their third game of the season, the team traveled to Pepperdine on Sunday. Santa Barbara started off strong, but started to lose momentum by the third quarter.
“We came out pretty strong in the first half, but in the second half we made some mistakes on counter defense, and that really hurt us,” Alexander said. “It seemed like we had both games, we really will have to keep our intensity, because we are right up there with power and skill.”
“League is a lot different from preseason, we need to toughen up because we are playing better and better teams. Once we get emotions out of the way I think we will be the more dominant team,” O’Brien said.
The team is now 0-3 in league, but still has many games ahead and has been practicing a great deal. They are expecting to improve tremendously throughout the season, finishing off the rest of the conference games strong.
The Gauchos play the U.S. Olympic team on Wednesday at 7p.m. at Santa Barbara High School. They will also be playing this weekend against Irvine and at Long Beach.