Sunday, the #9 Gauchos defeated #14 Pacific 12-7 in the last conference match of the season. With the win, the Gauchos improved their overall record to 12-14 and earned home court advantage in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament on Nov. 23.
“The guys played well, not going to play in Stockton was inspiration enough,” UCSB Coach Tom Coughlan said.
The Gauchos looked inspired in the first quarter. Despite giving the Tigers the first goal, UCSB had a solid period. Junior utility Brian Alexander, freshman driver Matt Tilburg, freshman two-meter Joe Ferguson and junior driver Andrew Schoneberger each scored a goal, concluding the first quarter with a lead of 4-1.
In the second quarter Santa Barbara eased up on the Pacific Tigers, allowing them to enter halftime tied with a score of 4-4.
In the third quarter the UCSB men regained their momentum. The Gauchos attacked and brought the score up 9-6. Alexander came out strong, scoring the first goal of the quarter and found the net again later in the quarter. Senior driver Doug Arthur made a quick steal and took a shot, wowing the crowd with his first of two goals of the game. Sophomore driver Ian Christensen stole the ball from the Tigers offense and passed to freshman two-meter Matt Dale who scored within the last three seconds.
The fourth quarter started off even stronger, with Tilburg winning his fourth sprint of the game, and UCSB scoring three more times before the final buzzer, bringing the score 12-7. Arthur, senior two-meter Steve Traverso and Christensen each scored goals in the quarter. Freshman goalie Rick Wright had four saves.
“We played well in the second half, we had our ups and downs, but we kept our composure,” Traverso said. “We came out and attacked fast, we took it to the right away.”
Head Coach Joe O’Brien agreed that the team played with better intensity. O’Brien said that this game was different from the past few games
“The men played with more confidence,” O’Brien said. “They responded well.”
The Gauchos came through and proved this by finishing the game 12-7.
“I’m glad we won our last game,” said Traverso.
For the two graduating seniors, Arthur and Traverso, this was their last home game of the season.
“It is like a double-edged sword,” O’Brien said about losing two of his players. “They go through the program and bring so much to it, the other guys learn to depend on them.”
Traverso finishes the season with a total of 44 goals in his two years of playing, and Arthur finishes with a total of 80 cumulative goals from his years on the team, holding the UCSB record for highest cumulative goals in his career. These student athletes have contributed more than simply statistics to the team; they are seen as role models.
“Doug is one of the most intense players I have ever seen, and Steve is one of this season’s most improved players,” O’Brien said.
“It’s always nice to have people come out and support us,” Arthur said.
The Gauchos have one remaining home game to be played at the RecCen Pool on Nov. 23 at noon.