The Gauchos were coming off a two-game losing streak from Princeton and UC Los Angeles on Saturday.
After a highly intense game, the No. 11 UC Santa Barbara men’s water polo team went point to point with No. 8 UC Irvine for three quarters. The Gauchos punched it open in the fourth quarter to seal the upset victory.
The Anteaters did strike first with the 1st point on the board, but the Gauchos did not go without a fight. Senior center Sam Nangle, being savvy, created a vast open space for a slam dunk from the center in the 4th minute of the first quarter. Outsmarting the UCI defense, Nangle evened the score at 1-1, but not for long.
One minute later, senior driver Ryan Brosnan followed up his teammate by launching an absolute banger from the outside on a power play to put the Gauchos up 2-1.
Unfortunately, a minute after Brosnan’s goal, UCSB’s sophomore center Dash McFarland committed an exclusion, creating a power play for UCI. UCI, taking full advantage, scored 15 seconds into the power play, where sophomore attacker Ethan Shipman found the back of the net.
Vigorous efforts in the cage kept the score count low in the first quarter, leaving the score tied at 2-2 going into the second quarter.
Going into the second quarter, UCI struck first again when sophomore attacker Dylan Patist gave his team a 3-2 lead with seven minutes remaining in the second quarter.
From there on, the point advantage went back and forth from both teams for the remainder of the first half.
Freshman defender Luke Redoutey, sophomore defender Shane Hoover and senior attacker Logan Sutter scored in the second quarter, bringing the score to a 5-4 lead in UCSB’s favor when the halftime whistle was blown.
In the third quarter, the defense was the name of the game. Offensive attacks from both teams did not faze UCSB’s senior goalie Danny Roland nor UCI’s sophomore goalie Jacob Pyle. By the end of the quarter, only 2 goals were scored.
On a power play, UCI’s senior attacker Zlatan Nikocevic tied it up at 5-5 with seven minutes remaining. However, four minutes later, UCSB’s freshman attacker Colton Gregory broke the tie with the ball hitting the back of the net.
By the end of the quarter, the Gauchos’ major asset on defense, Roland, had chalked up 12 saves.
As the game and clock continued to wind down, both teams looked for a spark to blow it up to seal a win.
For the Gauchos, senior center James Oriskovich was that spark they needed. Oriskovich, coming off the bench, did an outstanding turn-to-shoot combo from the center in the 1st minute of play in the fourth quarter, where senior attacker Mason Chambliss was credited for the assist.
From there on, it was all Gauchos. Senior attacker Tommy Hawkins and McFarland led successful offensive attacks to blow it up to a 10-5 lead favoring UCSB.
With the final whistle going off, UCSB capped off the weekend with an 11-6 win. This win marked the first time UCSB has defeated a higher-ranked opponent this season.
UCSB has three more games remaining in the regular season, beginning with a road game at No. 15 San Jose State on Oct. 29 at 1:00 p.m.