All’s well that ends well for the UCSB men’s water polo team (17-6 overall, 3-1 in the Big West), after it lost one and won one this weekend.
On Saturday, the Gauchos lost to #3 USC 7-3, only to defeat Loyola Marymount 6-3 on Sunday.
USC jumped to an early 1-0 lead in the first quarter, but allowed Santa Barbara to get on the board with two goals in the second quarter that tied the game at halftime.
The Trojans then scored three goals in the third quarter, but UCSB was unable to come back despite scoring a goal of its own in the fourth.
Thomas Hale led all scorers with two goals for USC, while senior utility Brian Alexander, senior driver Andrew Schoneberger and freshman utility Robbie Bauer scored the goals in the Gaucho defeat.
“We made a couple of mistakes, they cashed in on them,” Head Coach Joe O’Brien said. “We came away from the SC game feeling that we made mistakes that cost us the game, whereas, the past times we had lost, we came away feeling that we weren’t in their ballpark of play. We’re moving in the right direction.”
Santa Barbara’s weekend in the South wasn’t done, as they later battled against non-conference opponent LMU in Los Angeles. This time, it was the Gauchos’ turn to shut a team out, as they kept the Lions from scoring in three of the four quarters, despite many power play opportunities. Santa Barbara was up 3-0 heading into the third quarter and the Lions tried to answer back with their only three goals of the game. Alexander and sophomore two-meter Matt Dale scored two goals each.
Gaucho junior goalie Jon Bonafede had nine saves on the day, five up from his performance on Saturday. LMU sophomore goalie Ian Elliot had 14 saves on the day, but it was not enough to save his team, dropping them to 13-8 for the season.
“We defended really well. Our offensive wasn’t super dynamic, but it didn’t cost us in transition – much different from the USC game,” O’Brien said.
The Trojans broke UCSB’s five-game winning streak, but no worries for the Gauchos. They have already achieved a higher win record than the 14 of last year and are on track to set a new record if they surpass the 1993 record of 19-12. The remainder of the Gauchos’ six games are all Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) conferences matches, so this first conference loss of the season will not terribly affect UCSB.
“We’re in pretty good shape, as far as our league record goes. I don’t think anyone will go through the league undefeated. Coming off a tough game where we worked hard and lost, it was a good came for us to come back and control,” O’Brien said. “We responded very well to the loss.”
The Gauchos play host to MPSF opponents #9 Long Beach State on Oct. 30 and #2 Stanford on Halloween.