After a tough loss to Stanford last weekend, the No. 3 UCSB men’s water polo team continues MPSF play with games against UCLA and UC Irvine this weekend. On Saturday, the Gauchos will host UCLA at home and then travel to UC Irvine for Sunday’s game.

“It’s very important to get back on track after Stanford,” sophomore attacker Derek Shoemaker said.“We believe we are the deepest team in the country and there is no reason to be worried about any specific team.”

In their previous meeting this year, UCSB beat UCLA 11-10 in the semifinals of the SoCal tournament. In that game, the Gauchos led at halftime 8-4 before being outscored by the Bruins 5-1 in the third quarter. With the game tied late in the fourth quarter, Shoemaker scored his game-high fourth goal to win the game and send the Gauchos into the finals.

The UCLA game also holds national ranking implications. After last weekend’s loss to Stanford, UCSB is now ranked No. 3 nationally, right behind No. 2 UCLA.

“We have been playing very consistent water polo outside of that first quarter against Stanford,”Shoemaker said.“We need to continue to practice hard and stay focused if we want to beat the top MPSF teams.” After the UCLA game, the Gauchos will travel south to face UC Irvine on Sunday. In their only match against the Anteaters this year, UCSB lost in double overtime 12-11. The first half was a back and forth offensive shootout, with the teams matching each other goal for goal.

With the score tied in the third quarter 5-5, the Gauchos took a two-goal lead and seemed to be pulling away from UCI. However, the Anteaters came storming back to take the lead with goals from the third highest scorer in the MPSF,Bojan Hrlec.The Gauchos took another lead in the first overtime, but were eventually outlasted by Hrlec and the rest of UCI in the second overtime. Senior captain and goalkeeper Myles Christian, who is currently ranked third in saves per game in the MPSF, led the Gauchos with eight saves.

“We feel very confident, but we know they are a very talented team,” senior captain Brian Shoemaker said.“We will have to bring our A-game to beat them in Irvine.”

Game time for Saturday’s match against UCLA is set for 12 p.m. at Campus Pool and Sunday’s game at UCI will also begin at 12 p.m.