After a strong start to the season, the men’s water polo team has now dropped five straight games, with four of those defeats coming by a one-goal margin.

The #8 Gauchos (10-6 overall) traveled to #7 Long Beach State (7-2) last week with hopes of getting back on the winning track, but a 49er goal with two seconds remaining in overtime sent UCSB to one of its toughest losses of the season.

UCSB took an early lead and went into the half up 4-2. Trailing 6-4 heading into the fourth quarter, Long Beach rallied to send the game into overtime. With the teams still tied at seven after the first overtime, senior driver Ross Sinclair put the Gauchos ahead with his second goal of the match.

Long Beach came right back to tie it up with just over a minute remaining and then netted the game winner when senior Clint Wilson snuck one past Gaucho senior goalie Rick Wright. Wright kept the Gauchos in the game with 12 saves, while 49er senior keeper Steve MacKenzie kept up with Wright save for save, finishing with 11.

The loss came on the heels of a 22-6 victory over Golden West College earlier in the day, but, unfortunately for the Gauchos, the win did not count in the standings, since Golden West is a junior college.

On Sept. 20, the Gauchos faced #6 UC Irvine (4-3) and dropped a heartbreaker by a score of 8-7. The Anteaters led 5-3 at the half, but Sinclair and freshman utility Milos Golic scored to get the Gauchos back in the game. Irvine withstood a late goal from Golic and held on for the victory. Golic led the Gauchos with four goals, while Sinclair and sophomores Stefan Partelow and Zsombor Vincze added one goal apiece.

Returning home for the first time, the Gauchos hosted the annual Alumni Match on Sept. 23. The team will be back in action this weekend with a Saturday game against Loyola Marymount. The official home opener will take place on Sunday when the Gauchos host a rematch against the Anteaters.