While most of Isla Vista was taking part in the insanity that was Halloween weekend, the men’s water polo team had a party of it’s own on Saturday in Palo Alto. The #9 UCSB Gauchos upset #4 Stanford 9 to 7, beating the Cardinal for the first time since 1985.
The win comes on the heels of last week’s tough fought, disappointing loss to #1 USC and improves the Gauchos’ record to 18-9 overall and 2-2 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play. Like last week, UCSB got off to a slow start, falling behind 2-0 before senior driver Ross Sinclair got the Gauchos on the board in the first period. In the second frame, the Gauchos managed to tie the score at three with goals from sophomore driver Stefan Partelow and junior driver Mark Knudtsen. However, the Cardinal (10-6 overall, 1-3 MPSF) would strike again before the half to give Stanford a one-goal lead heading into the break.
UCSB came out firing on all cylinders early in the second half, led by a pair of goals from sophomore utility Zsombor Vincze and a tally from freshman utility Milos Golic. The three unanswered goals gave the Gauchos their first lead of the contest at 6-4. After Stanford fought back to tie the score at six heading into the last quarter of play, UCSB got two more goals from Vincze and Golic to give the Gauchos a lead they would never relinquish the rest of the way. Senior goalie Rick Wright shut the door on the Cardinal comeback effort and Sinclair added an insurance goal to complete the scoring at 9-7.
“[Our defense] stepped up,” Sinclair said. “It was contagious and every single person played amazing. It was our most complete performance from start to finish. The goals that were scored were little mistakes we made that they were able to capitalize on. We were able to fix those mistakes throughout the game.”
The Gauchos hope that the strong effort against Stanford can give them momentum heading into the stretch run at the end of the season.
“This win is perfect timing,” said Sinclair. “We have four or five games left and every team we play was beaten by Stanford. All of our games we are capable of winning. It’s going to boost our confidence.”
With Saturday’s win, the Gauchos were able to beat the alma mater of head coach Wolf Wigo, whose brother Drac Wigo scored a goal for Stanford in the match. The Gauchos will get a chance to beat another top team when they take on #2 UC Berkeley at noon next Saturday at Campus Pool in Santa Barbara.