The UCSB men’s water polo team rebounded from its worst loss of the season on Saturday with a big conference road victory on Sunday. After losing 14-6 to #3 UCLA (18-5 overall 4-2 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation), the #7 Gauchos (18-11 overall, 3-4 MPSF) came back to defeat #8 Long Beach State (17-11 overall, 2-5 MPSF) on a late goal from senior driver Ross Sinclair.
The 49ers had previously defeated UCSB twice this season by one-goal margins, and the third meeting proved to be another hard-fought, back and forth game. UCSB scrapped its way to a 3-2 halftime lead, before the 49ers fought back to tie the game at four in the third frame. Sinclair opened the scoring for the Gauchos in the fourth quarter, and the two teams would trade goals the rest of the way. Fortunately for UCSB, Sinclair capped off the scoring with 1:26 seconds to play to preserve the Gaucho victory.
“It was just a counter-attack,” Sinclair said. “Everyone hit their positions fine, and I was lucky enough to hit the shot. Everyone rebounded today and played great.”
Freshman utility Milos Golic scored twice in the win, while sophomore driver Stefan Partelow and junior drivers Miles Price and Travis Watts pitched in a goal apiece. Freshman goalie Fraser Bunn got the start in goal for UCSB and posted four saves before sophomore goalie Michael Robinson relieved him and posted six saves over the final three quarters for the victory.
A day earlier, UCLA scored early and often and never looked back. Freshman utility Ben Hohl and junior attacker Krsto Sbutega led the Bruin attack with seven combined goals, as the Bruins jumped out to a 6-1 lead midway through the second quarter. The Bruins would continue to roll, outscoring UCSB 4-1 in the third frame en route to an eight-goal victory.
Once again, sophomore utility Zsombor Vincze provided the offense for the Gauchos with two goals to continue his dominant MPSF play. In a balanced scoring effort, senior 2-meter Matt Dale, Watts, Stefan Partelow and freshman 2-meter Brian Bishop all found the back of the net once. While the Gauchos were disappointed after the blowout loss, they did everything they could on Sunday to make the UCLA game a distant memory.
“[Saturday’s game] was just embarrassing,” Sinclair said. “Nothing went our way, unfortunately, but [on Sunday] we took care of business and it made everyone feel good.”
The Gauchos will wrap up MPSF play on the road this Sunday against Pepperdine. The opening sprint is scheduled for noon at Raleigh Runnels Memorial Pool at Pepperdine.