Aching for victory, the UCSB men’s water polo team couldn’t come up with a win against Pepperdine, losing 6-5 and sinking into a five-game losing streak.
With one game left in the regular season, the #7 Gauchos (17-11 overall, 2-6 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) let another match go, falling to the #11 Waves (13-12, 3-5 MPSF).
“It was a good win for us,” Pepperdine Head Coach Terry Schroeder said. “It’s tough coming to UCSB and playing in their house. Especially since they’ve got such experienced players on their team.”
Although the Gauchos came up short, they out-scored Pepperdine in both the first and fourth quarters and matched the number of goals scored by the Waves in the third. Senior utility Brian Alexander led UCSB with two goals and tied freshman driver Matt Digges of Pepperdine for the most goals in the game.
“We started out well, but in the second and third quarters, we let the game go,” Alexander said. “We have to be consistent in the game and keep up our intensity. We can’t let down during the second half.”
Santa Barbara was only shut out in one quarter, but managed to net five shots throughout the entire game. Sophomore driver Ross Sinclair scored first in the game, followed by Alexander to close out the first quarter with UCSB on top. For the remainder of the game, however, UCSB couldn’t hold on to its lead and fell behind the Waves early in the second.
“Obviously, we don’t have the wins, and that’s disappointing,” UCSB Head Coach Joe O’Brien said. “Today we played with our best defense, but made some mistakes in the first half. All their goals came from their hard work.”
Santa Barbara had a chance to put its losing streak to a halt, facing a lower-ranked team in Pepperdine, but the Waves have been performing better than their ranking suggests. Pepperdine tied the game in the second quarter, and by the end of the quarter, it had secured a win.
In the fourth quarter, UCSB came close to evening the match, when Alexander threw up a shot with less than a minute left. The shot deflected off the goalpost past the keeper, but did not score. Despite the attempt, UCSB couldn’t come up with an answer to the Waves’ sixth goal, and dropped their fifth consecutive game.
“Right now, our confidence is down,” O’Brien said. “With all these one-goal losses, our confidence is going to slide some. At some point, these guys are going to break out of the losses, and I hope that time is now.”
UCSB looks to end its season with a win next week when it hosts #5 Irvine.