The UCSB men’s water polo team wrapped up its season with an 11-9 loss to Pepperdine yesterday at Campus Pool.
The Waves took an early lead, and stretched it to six goals by the end of the third quarter. The Gauchos came storming back in the fourth, with five goals in the final six minutes of the game. Santa Barbara scored the goal that would have evened the score, but a highly controversial call by the referee overturned the point, and Pepperdine sealed the win with a goal with 3:47 left.
“We showed that when we’re down, we can come back, but we just put ourselves in too deep of a hole,” UCSB Head Coach Wolf Wigo said.
The Gauchos struck first when a pass found its way inside to freshman two-meter Jesse Tootell in front of the net. Tootell blew it past the Pepperdine goalkeeper for the only Santa Barbara lead of the game. The Waves came back and went on a 4-0 scoring run that continued into the second quarter. Many of the Pepperdine goals came when the Gauchos were a man down, a fact that caused many fans to question the quality of the officiating.
Sophomore driver Dane Lindstrom ended the drought with 5:41 left in the second quarter with a lob shot that brought the Gauchos within two goals of the Waves. Pepperdine was not interested in letting UCSB back in the game however, and got another power play goal at the 5:02 mark. Sophomore driver Travis Watts kept the Gauchos alive with a shot over the head of the Pepperdine goalie with three minutes left in the second quarter. With 30 seconds left in the third, Pepperdine freshman attacker J.P. MacDonell completed his hat trick to put the Waves up by three.
Pepperdine stretched the lead to six by the end of the third quarter with three more power play goals, two of which happened within a minute. Lindstrom notched another one with a minute left for Santa Barbara’s only score of the quarter.
The Gauchos came out blazing in the fourth quarter, and scored three uncontested goals in two minutes. Watts got his second of the game on a power play with six minutes left. Thirty seconds later, junior driver Ross Sinclair blasted in one of his own. Finally, sophomore driver Miles Price forced the goalie to swim out on a fast break, and Price found one past him for the open goal. Pepperdine got its last goal with 3:47 left to put the Waves up 11-7. The Gauchos kept coming, with a rocket scored by Price 30 seconds later and a beautiful backhand goal from freshman utility Zsombor Vincze put in with 2:28 to go. However, UCSB could not close the gap as the final two minutes left both teams without any appreciable offense.
UCSB now faces Stanford in the first round of the MPSF tournament, which kicks off in Irvine this weekend.
“We play Stanford and we know them pretty well, I just hope we don’t make the same mistakes we made today,” Wigo said. “We’re excited to be the five seed and we’re hoping for a competitive game.”