The UCSB men’s water polo team went down to the Southern California Tournament looking to make a statement and wound up with a piece of humble pie. The Gauchos lost their opener, averting their anticipated match against USC and eliminating their hopes of winning the tournament. However, the #7 Gauchos (16-8 overall) were able to rebound by winning their remaining games, which was good enough to place them ninth in the tournament that featured 14 of the top 20 teams in the nation.
The tournament opened for the Gauchos on a sour note, as they were unable to tame #10 LMU (7-11 overall) for a third time this year, falling 5-4. UCSB opened the scoring with a goal from sophomore utility Zsombor Vincze. However, the Gauchos would have to play from behind the rest of the match as LMU scored twice in both the first and second frames and found themselves up 4-2 at halftime. Senior 2-meter Matt Dale and senior goalie Rick Wright did their part to spark a UCSB comeback. Dale scored the only goal in the third period to make it a 4-3 contest, while Wright shut out the Lion attack in the third quarter by making six saves. However, in the fourth the Lions netted their 5th goal, which proved to be the game winner.
“It was a pretty big disaster for us,” said freshman utility Milos Golic. “It was really frustrating and we played a very bad game.”
Revelling in the agony of defeat, the Gauchos looked to take out their frustrations in their second game against the University of Redlands. In a game that tied the highest offensive output by a team in the tournament, UCSB walloped the Bulldogs 19-2 as ten different Gauchos scored. Senior driver Ross Sinclair, sophomore driver Stefan Partelow and junior driver Miles Price led the Gaucho attack by each recording a hat trick, with Partelow leading the way with four goals.
Sunday’s competition found the Gauchos playing a morning game against the #14 University of the Pacific Tigers (14-11 overall). In a 13-7 victory, UCSB took the early lead and maintained it throughout. Golic broke out in a big way with five goals and was quick to complement his teammates for his success.
“It’s all teamwork,” Golic said. “It’s not my job, it’s the job of the whole team to give me opportunities to score. We played a really good game.”
Six other Gauchos added to the scoring that put UCSB in the 9th place at Sunday’s evening game against St. Francis.
UCSB built a 6-2 lead in the last game of the tournament before the Terriers (13-5 overall) mounted a fourth quarter comeback. Price, Vincze, Sinclair, Golic and junior driver Mark Knudtsen paced the Gaucho scoring to give the UCSB squad a comfortable lead. However, in the fourth St. Francis scored three times to bring it within one, but the Gaucho defense would clamp down just long enough to escape with a 9th place finish in the tournament.
UCSB returns to action against #14 UOP at Campus Pool on Friday Oct. 19th at 4 p.m.