The #6 UCSB men’s water polo team took fourth place at the Southern California Invitational this past weekend, defeating #17 Concordia and #4 Stanford before losing to #1 USC and #5 Irvine.

“It’s definitely an improvement,” Head Coach Wolf Wigo said. “But we hoped to finish higher.”

In the 8-4 loss to UC Irvine that decided the third place finishers in the tournament, Santa Barbara jumped to an early 2-0 lead before allowing seven straight goals.

UCSB (7-4 overall) is now 1-2 against UC Irvine, who also beat the Gauchos last week at Campus Pool but lost to the Gauchos in the NorCal tournament earlier this year.

The match was the Gauchos’ fourth in two days.

“Most of our players were extremely tired,” senior utility Zsombor Vincze said. “But the other team was just as tired.”

Against undefeated USC, the Gauchos allowed four goals in the first half alone. By the end of the first quarter, they were in a 4-1 hole but outscored the Trojans 4-0 in the second and third quarters to take a 5-4 lead heading into the fourth. However, USC rebounded, outscoring the Gauchos 3-1 to close out the match. The Trojans’ game-clinching goal came with only 52 seconds left in the game.

“It was a heartbreaking loss,” Wigo said.

In the team’s 12-10 win against Stanford, the Cardinal outscored UCSB 3-2 in the first half and threatened to continue its two-year long win streak against the Gauchos. In the second quarter, UCSB exploded for six goals while Stanford only scored three.

After gaining an 8-6 lead, the Gauchos slowed down its scoring threat. Both teams matched each other goal for goal for the remainder of the match, but the Gauchos prevailed.

“We’re a better team than them,” Vincze said. “We have to prove it every time.”

Sophomore utility Brian Shoemaker led the Gauchos with three goals on the match, but the game MVP may have been Fraser Bunn, who had 12 saves.

Eight different Gauchos scored in UCSB’s 19-10 victory over Concordia — the team’s first opponent of the tournament. The Gaucho offense put up six goals in the first and another five in the second quarter to lead 11-8 at half. UCSB then outscored the Eagles 8-2 in the second half.

Senior utility Milos Golic led the way with six goals while junior 2-meter Sam Evans added a hat trick in the game. Bunn posted four saves.

UCSB returns to Campus Pool on Oct. 10 to face Concordia again in their first of four consecutive home matches.