While most UCSB students were recovering from their adventurous Halloween weekend, the UCSB men’s club water polo team made a quick trip up to San Luis Obispo on Saturday for a match against rival Cal Poly.
The #3 Mustangs welcomed the newly created club team with a display of speed and strong transition play en route to a 13-7 victory. The Gauchos (2-1 overall) entered the game undefeated, but over the course of the match, could only watch as a number materialized in their loss column. Santa Barbara looked very impressive throughout much of the game, but could not finish as strongly as it had started in the beginning of the match.
“The deciding factor of the game was conditioning,” junior captain Brian Featherstun said. “All goals came down to transition play. We out-played them in our set offense, but they were faster swimmers.”
The Gauchos received strong performances from both junior driver Danny Natalizio and senior driver Frank Hurd, who each had two goals apiece in the loss. Despite upsetting #9 CLA earlier in the season and securing a victory with ease against a well-rounded USC squad, the Gauchos have received no love in the rankings. This could be because the team was a late addition to the club water polo association and has possibly been overlooked. However, UCSB is very confident in its ability to jump onto the rankings soon, because the team playing these ranked opponents is actually considered an NCAA B team in the water polo division.
“We have a lot of great players that have proven themselves and could compete at the NCAA level,” Featherstun said.
UCSB has a chance to redeem itself in an upcoming tournament, in which the Gauchos will host Cal Poly, Cal State Fresno and San Jose State on Nov. 11.