Another game, another victory for the #5 UCSB men’s water polo team (14-5) with an 8-4 defeat over #6 UC San Diego (16-7) in front of a large crowd at Campus Pool on Friday afternoon.
The Tritons scored first in the first quarter when freshman driver Adnan Jerkovic scored his first goal of the game. With just under two minutes left to play in the quarter, the Gauchos scored two goals to make the score 2-1 going into the second quarter.
Senior Gaucho driver Andrew Schoneberger scored the 100th goal of his career in the second quarter, making him only the 18th Gaucho player to do so. Again, it was Jerkovic who scored for UCSD in the second quarter, who was the only Triton to put any goals past UCSB junior keeper Jon Bonafede.
UCSD may have won the spring at the start of the third quarter, but it was UCSB who would control the remainder of the match.
“We did a really good job in the second half defending and being a little more cohesive on the offensive side,” UCSB Head Coach Joe O’Brien said.
Gaucho sophomore driver Ross Sinclair struck out early in the third quarter, upping the score to 5-3 by scoring on a power play with UCSD a man down. The Tritons scored their final goal of the game in the third quarter with 1:14 to go, increasing Jerkovic’s season tally to 38.
Santa Barbara would score three more goals in the game, some of which came on the several power play opportunities given to them.
“[The Tritons] had a lot more power plays and they only scored maybe one or two of them,” O’Brien said. “We ran pretty good power plays, which is something we’ve struggled with recently, obviously something that helped.”
Unlike San Diego, Santa Barbara shared the scoring, with six players contributing to the final count. Drivers junior Ramiro Saldain and sophomore Ross Sinclair led the team, netting two goals each.
“It was a team win, everyone’s just playing great – it’s fun to be here. It was a really fun game to play and when everyone’s up and a bunch of people come out; it’s just great to play,” Bonafede said. “This was a pretty big game; San Diego’s ranked right behind us, it was exciting, the energy was high and it helped us out.”
Bonafede had 16 saves in the game and was able to shut out UCSD in the fourth quarter. Bonafede looks at the match in steps.
“We’ve been trying to take just every possession at a time. Every time the ball comes down on defense, I’m thinking, ‘What can I do right now? What are we telling the guys?'” Bonafede said. “Just living in the now, then making that save, and then the next time down the pool, the same thing.”
The Gauchos will take their ideology with them for the next two weekends, as they play the visitor role versus some challenging opponents at Cal and USC, as well as Loyola Marymount and Pacific.