The No. 2 UCSB men’s water polo team lost in its first MPSF game of the season Saturday, 9-7 to Stanford. This loss was the Gauchos’ second in three games against the Cardinal.

With the loss, Santa Barbara drops to 14-4 overall and 0-1 in the MPSF. Stanford, meanwhile, improves to 7-3 overall and 1-1 in conference. For the Gauchos, the loss was the first at home this season.

Stanford scored four goals and stifled UCSB’s high-powered offense, shutting them out in a physical first quarter.

“The refs gave them some very good opportunities to score in the first quarter,” freshman attacker Bryan Snyder said. “[They had] a lot of six-on-five opportunities which they converted.”

The scoring began at 5:47 in the first quarter, when Stanford sophomore utility Nick Hoversten converted with a 6-5 advantage. Mere seconds later, Cardinal freshman driver BJ Churnside beat the Gaucho defense to put Stanford up 2-0.

“In the first quarter we received six ejections, which is almost one ejection per possession, and they capitalized on it,” junior 2-meter Dylan Baliani said.

The Cardinal momentum was eventually disrupted in the second quarter by junior attacker Evan Dellinger’s first of two goals in the game, placing Dellinger at 34 on the season, good for second on the team. With a minute left in the first half, Baliani scored, bringing the score to 7-2 at halftime.

After halftime, UCSB began to pick up its play on both sides of the ball. In the third quarter, clutch goals by sophomore utilities Nick Tomasello and Bryce Miller helped the Gauchos outscore Stanford 2-1, cutting the deficit to 8-4 at the end of the third.

In the fourth quarter, Dellinger, Miller and Tomasello all scored their second goals of the game. After allowing another Stanford goal, UCSB senior goalkeeper Myles Christian locked down the cage, giving the Gauchos a great chance at a comeback.

Strategic timeouts helped UCSB slow the game down, but in the end, the Gauchos ran out of time. UCSB outscored Stanford 5-2 in the second half, but their poor first half was too much to overcome.

“Due to our ejections, we had to bench our primary guards for most of the game,” Baliani said. “All in all, the ejection ratio in the first half is what killed us.”

Christian anchored UCSB’s defense with seven saves. For Stanford, freshman driver Bret Bonnani tallied a hat trick and junior goalkeeper Scott Platshon made 10 saves.

UCSB’s next game is another MPSF conference match at home against UCLA on Saturday at noon.