After defeating #6 Irvine last weekend in the NorCal Tournament at UC Berkeley, the #5 UCSB men’s water polo team lost to the Anteaters 11-5.
“This is embarrassing,” senior utility Milos Golic said. “Nothing went right.”
Irvine (7-2 Overall) opened the game up much hotter than Santa Barbara, outscoring the Gauchos 4-2 in the opening quarter and everything seemed to go wrong for Santa Barbara from the start.
“We came in with a plan,” sophomore utility Brian Shoemaker said. “But we didn’t follow it at all.”
UCSB (5-2 overall) looked to rebound in the second quarter, but the Anteaters stretched their lead, outscoring the Gauchos 2-1 in the quarter. The Gauchos’ deficit could have been bigger, but senior keeper Fraser Bunn blocked a 5-meter penalty.
Junior 2-meter Noah Smith scored early in the third quarter to put Santa Barbara within three goals of the Anteaters. Irvine scored shortly after. Sophomore 2-meter Dylan Baliani then scored UCSB’s last goal of the game to make the score 8-5 in favor of the ‘Eaters.
In the match, the Gauchos squandered several 6-on-5 opportunities and conceded another 5-meter penalty that junior goalie Myles Christian was unable to stop.
The referees ejected freshman 2-meter defender Lazar Komadinic in the third, as well. Santa Barbara’s misery culminated in an own goal as an Irvine player passed a ball inside that deflected off of a Santa Barbara defender and straight into the back of the net.
The fourth and final quarter remained scoreless, as the UCI tried to burn the remaining time on the clock and UCSB’s bad luck continued.
With such high expectations on the year, head coach Wolf Wigo seemed dejected after the game.
“This is unacceptable,” Wigo said. “We cannot afford to have one more game likes this the rest of the season.”
The game featured several ejections and questionable calls by the referees. However, UCSB does not believe this affected the game.
“The calls were awful,” Golic said. “But I don’t blame the refs one percent for the loss.”
Golic, a three time All-American, is on the verge of becoming Santa Barbara’s all-time leading scorer. However, the ‘Eaters were able to keep the Serbian native at bay and off the scoreboard. This is the first time Golic has not scored since last October.
“I feel so ashamed,” Golic said.
Golic’s scoreless game could not have come at a more inconvenient time, as senior utility Zsombor Vincze sat with a rib injury. The rest of the Gauchos were unable to compensate and the offense failed to get going.
Bunn had eight saves in the first half while Christian notched three saves in the second half.
With the Southern California Tournament coming up this weekend, UCSB has little time to dwell on the loss.
“The most important thing we can do is to bounce back and look ahead,” Shoemaker said.