The UCSB men’s water polo team dropped two key Mountain Pacific Sports Federation games against closely ranked opponents over the weekend.
#9 Santa Barbara lost to #8 Irvine 10-8 on Saturday and to #7 Long Beach State 12-8 on Sunday. The two losses drop the Gauchos to 0-5 in the MPSF.
In its first game, Santa Barbara started out strong as junior driver Andrew Schoneberger scored the first goal of the game. The Anteaters soon countered with a goal of their own, setting pace for a match that would prove to waver back-and-forth.
“We scored and then they scored, it stayed close until the end,” UCSB Head Coach Joe O’Brien said. “They played well and we made too many untimely mistakes.”
The Gauchos were familiar with UCI, facing them on Sept. 21 and losing 9-6 at the SoCal Tournament.
“It was a tough game, we had some breakdowns defensively, we need to work on help defense and awareness,” Schoneberger said.
Santa Barbara’s falters on the defensive end led to countless Anteater shooting opportunities, which largely contributed to the Irvine victory.
“We can’t always depend on the goalie as the last line of defense, we gave up too many breaks” O’Brien said.
Freshman goalkeeper Rick Wright amassed six saves while Schoneberger, senior driver Doug Arthur, junior utility Brian Alexander and senior two-meter Steve Traverso netted goals for the Gauchos.
“The guys let the Irvine game affect their playing against Long Beach,” O’Brien said. “Disappointment is not an excuse, we need to overcome that mindset.”
Against the 49ers, Santa Barbara started slowly and faced an early 5-1 deficit in the first quarter. The Gauchos dug in and kicked up their intensity to bring the score to 6-4 by halftime. The Gauchos and the 49ers continued to play hard, but the Gauchos’ intensity wasn’t consistent.
“They went up early, we battled back, but we lost composure and we let them beat us,” Schoneberger said.
The 49ers opened up the fourth quarter with an 8-5 lead and did not let the UCSB team come within two goals the rest of the way. Wright stopped six balls, and goals from Alexander, Arthur, sophomore driver Ian Christensen and sophomore driver Ramiro Saldain helped the effort.
“We can’t change the flow of every game, but we will have to work on changing how we play in these different situations,” O’Brien said.
The Gauchos will play at San Diego on Friday and at the RecCen Pool on Sunday at 3p.m.