It was a tough weekend for the #8 UCSB men’s water polo team, who turned in a less than spectacular performance at the SoCal Tournament.

The Gauchos (14-8 overall, 0-1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) faltered on the first day of the tournament, losing to #11 UC Irvine and #1 USC. Sunday UCSB defeated #16 Air Force Academy for a spot in the ninth-place match, but lost to #6 Loyola Marymount to take tenth overall.

Saturday, the Gauchos squared off against Irvine hoping to defeat the Anteaters for the third time this season. The game was back and forth through three quarters. The teams entered the fourth tied 7-7 with 2:05 remaining, when Irvine freshman Jamie Frank gave the Anteaters the nail-biting 8-7 win.

In the next match the Gauchos were able to remain close with the Trojans through the first half, just as they did last week when they brought the score to 6-5 late in the second. UCSB was then able to go into halftime in a 4-4 tie. Last week USC outscored Santa Barbara 4-0 in the third quarter, and UCSB had to live through it again as the Trojans repeated that exact margin in the third quarter of Saturday’s game to take an 8-4 lead into the fourth. USC put three more goals on the board in the fourth to win the game 11-5.

With the two losses on Saturday, UCSB found itself in the consolation bracket on Sunday, where it faced Air Force for a chance to play in the ninth-place game. The Gauchos handled the Falcons with relative ease as they won the match 10-6. Their next opponent was LMU, who fell into the consolation bracket with a loss to #2 UC Berkeley and a surprise defeat from #13 Pepperdine Saturday.

The game against Loyola was once again close through the first half, with the teams entering the half tied at 5-5. The Lions took a one-goal lead in the third and went into the fourth ahead 8-7. The Gauchos were unable to gain an advantage in the fourth, as LMU put had the answer for the lone UCSB goal and went away with the win and ninth place 10-8 overall finish. It was the third time this season that the Lions have beat Santa Barbara.

UCSB will return home this weekend as they face #9 University of St. Francis on Friday at 4 p.m. and play a conference match against #5 Stanford on Sunday at 12 p.m. at Campus Pool.

– Cassie Harris