After coming from behind to defeat #8 Long Beach on Saturday, the #6 UCSB men’s water polo failed to bring the magic against #2 USC on Sunday.
The Gauchos (10-6 Overall, 1-2 MPSF) opened up strong against the defending national champions, managing to stay within one as the Trojans took a 6-5 at half.
“We played even with them or better than even in the first half,” senior utility Milos Golic “We expected to repeat the first half results without doing as much and that’s impossible.”
Santa Barbara came out firing in the second half, evening the score at six. The team then lost its stride as the Trojans earned a penalty shot that sparked a 4-0 run. UCSB fought to mount their second fourth-quarter comeback of the weekend, but were unsuccessful, resulting in a 13-9 loss.
“We can learn from this,” Golic said. “Individually they’re all average players and we can let anyone on their team shoot. I feel bad that we lost to them.”
Before traveling to South Central, UCSB faced off with the #8 Long Beach 49ers at Campus pool. Santa Barbara came in with confidence which possibly contributed to digging an early hole for itself.
Freshman driver Matt Gronow initiated the scoring for the Gauchos halfway through the first period, but he 49ers responded with two goals of their own. However, Golic scored two goals, his second coming with just three seconds left in the first period.
Santa Barbara let up their intensity in the second period, allowing for Long Beach to close the gap. The 49ers outscored the Gauchos 4-1 in the period, leading to a 6-4 lead at half.
UCSB, desperate to come back, was able to tie the game 7-7 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. However, the 49ers scored three quick goals to put the score at 10-7 just four minutes into the quarter, when it appeared they were going to upset the home team.
Golic would not relent, though, leading his team to a fourth-quarter comeback. At 10-9, UCSB was awarded a penalty shot to Golic, who rifled it into the back of the net for his sixth goal of the game.
Thrity two minutes of regular time plus two overtime periods were not enough to decide a winner, so the match went to a third overtime period, this time with sudden death.
Thirty-four seconds into it, Golic scored his seventh goal of the day to hand his team the victory as the crowd erupted with joy.
“It was an unbeleievable comeback,” Golic said. “I can’t believe we pulled it off.
Despite struggles with the language, freshman center back Lazar Komadinic took his time to make clear his thoughts about the Gaucho captain Golic, who had ten goals on the weekend and now leads the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in goals.
“In all my years of playing [water polo], I have never seen someone beat the other team and lead his team like Milos [Golic],” Komadinic said. “He won the whole game.”
For Gronow, it was the first time he has ever played in overtime in his nine-year career and he was a bit confused.
“After the second period I was asking everybody what happens,” the Melbourne native said. “I kept asking if it was golden goal and [his teammates] kept saying ‘no, it’s sudden death.’ I didn’t know what that means, but I eventually figured out we just had to score to win.”
All confusion was erased with Golic’s dramatic goal.
‘It’s pretty epic to win this game,” Gronow said. “Such a good feeling.”