Losing 17-3 is never a good thing, but knowing the loss is against the U.S. National Team might ease the pain.

In an exhibition match, the UCSB men’s water polo team faced off in an exciting game against the U.S. National Team at Santa Barbara High School on Wednesday night. The National Team beat the Gauchos 17-3, but the loss was not a big letdown.

“It was a lot of fun; we know about these guys and we were honored to play with them. Most of them will play for the Olympic team, and that is the highest level there is,” UCSB freshman goalie Rick Wright said.

In the first quarter, the Gauchos came out strong even though their efforts were not seen on the scoreboard. The National Team came out firing, scoring four goals. Ryan Baily, Adam Wright, Dan Klatt and team captain Wolf Wigo each registered a goal. UCSB junior goalie Wright posted one save in the opening frame.

In the second quarter, Santa Barbara stepped up its offense, taking more attempts as the game became more physical. Of the game’s seven ejections, four were called in the second quarter. Junior utility Andrew Schoneberger tallied the Gauchos’ first goal on an assist from freshman driver Ross Sinclair. The Gauchos entered halftime down 10-1.

In the third period, senior driver Doug Arthur scored Santa Barbara’s second goal of the game, in between a streak of five consecutive goals by Olympians Baily and Wigo. In the final quarter, Matt Tilburg scored and the Santa Barbara crowd went crazy.

“It was nice playing in front of a crowd that was so enthusiastic and supportive,” Schonberger said.

The national team scored two more goals to finish off the route. Rick Wright ended with a total of six saves while reserve goalkeeper Mike Hoy posted three.

“[UCSB] played really well; I think they played better than the results on the scoreboard showed,” National Team Head Coach Ratko Rudic said. “They might have been a little intimidated and didn’t do everything they could; they are a young team with a really good future, and with a few more games they will really improve.”

National Team two-meter guard Dan Klatt also recognized Santa Barbara for its load of young competitive talent. Klatt coached water polo for Foothill High School, where he coached current Gaucho Alexander.

“They played hard and physical,” Klatt said. “It was cool to play against him.”

“These guys were really physical; I would say they are one of the most physical college teams we have played against,” Olympian Adam Wright said. “They have good players, as well as the ability to be really good. Within a year I can see them in the top three; they have a good future.”

UCSB Head Coach Joe O’Brien was credited by many of the Olympians as the integral factor to the Gauchos’ improvement.

“Joe is a good coach; he has built up one of the fittest teams,” Klatt said.

O’Brien was proud of the way his Gauchos performed against such a talented group.

“I thought we did well; I didn’t know what to expect. The National Team trains hard and takes advantage of every opportunity to score, but we took it seriously and I think we played better than we have all year,” O’Brien said.