The foreign waters of northern California proved too cold for the #15 UCSB men’s water polo team who lost to St. Francis N.Y. 10-9 and placed 13th in the NorCal Open at Cal over the weekend.
On Friday, Santa Barbara warmed up for the weekend with a non-conference match versus St. Francis N.Y. at West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif. The game went into overtime with the Terriers taking the victory 10-9.
“Our offense got a little better, we’re playing more like a team,” UCSB sophomore goalie James Street said. “We’re a lot better at recognizing and taking care of our defense, cutting down some of the mistakes we’ve been making which is why we’ve had some low scoring games.”
Bright and early Saturday, the Gauchos (9-10 overall, 0-1 in the MPSF) took on defending National Champion UCLA at the Spieker Aquatics Complex in Berkeley, Calif. for the first game of the tournament. The #1 Bruins took control of the match in the first quarter besting UCSB 4-1 and taking a 5-2 lead into the half. UCLA only allowed one Gaucho goal in the second half and tallied three goals for themselves taking the game 8-3.
Santa Barbara got on the board first later that day against Davis, scoring the only goal of the first period. The Aggies came back in the second scoring three and shutting down the UCSB offense. Both teams notched a goal in the third. The Gauchos were down 4-2 going into the fourth and their three goals were not enough to overcome Davis, who got the 6-5 win.
Sunday was a better day for Santa Barbara, who emerged victorious over Santa Cruz 10-4 and Santa Clara 9-7 to take 13th place at the tournament. UCSB outscored Santa Cruz in all four quarters thanks to three goals from sophomore driver Matt Tilburg and two from freshman driver Travis Watts along with six other players who each scored one goal.
A few hours later, the Gauchos were able to stymie Santa Clara’s offense in the first period jumping to a 3-0 lead and increased that to a 5-3 lead at the halfway mark. Each team scored four goals in the second half but it was that early advantage that helped UCSB to a 9-7 victory.
It was the freshmen leading the way again for Santa Barbara with freshmen driver Chris Lantz, left-hander Dane Lindstrom and driver Miles Price all contributing two goals apiece. Sophomore goalies Rick Wright and Street split time in goal in the tournament’s final game with Wright notching three saves and Street two .
Price scored five goals in the tournament, the highest of any Gaucho, while senior driver Ramiro Saldain scored once in each game, ending the tournament with four goals. Wright finished the weekend with 32 saves in goal altogether.
The Gauchos made more strides in their goal for a winning season although most of the teams they faced had more experienced players and coaches.
“Every team’s different, some of the teams are a lot older and experienced, they’ve had coaches who have been around for a long time, the program’s more established and things are running really smoothly for them,” Street said. “We’ve got a new coach and a young team and we’re still learning how to play together but we definitely took some steps towards that this weekend.”
Next, UCSB takes on #1 UCLA at the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center in Los Angeles, Calif. on Saturday before hosting #2 USC on Sunday at Campus Pool.