IRVINE, CALIF. – The No. 6 seeded UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team dropped a close 10-7 match to No. 3 seed UC Irvine on the opening night of the Golden Coast Conference Championships at Anteater Aquatics Complex on Friday night.
UCSB will play the loser of No. 5 San Jose State and No. 4 Pepperdine tomorrow, Nov. 18 at 4:30 p.m. in the fifth place match.
UCSB and UCI met three times prior to Friday night's game, with all three contests being tightly contested matchups all decided by three goals or fewer. Friday's matchup did not break that trend, as the Anteaters edged UCSB with a final score of 10-7.
The Gauchos gained the upper hand early in the first quarter after Jacob Halle opened the scoring for both sides to give UCSB a 1-0 lead with 6:43 remaining. Both sides showed great physicality throughout the game, and the tone was set early in the period. After scoring on their first attempt, UCSB proceeded to miss their next six shots to end the first. Both teams were limited by good defensive play, but UC Irvine led 2-1 entering the second.
The game looked to be out of the Gauchos' hands in the second quarter, as UC Irvine went on a 4-0 run to go up 6-1 with 3:07 remaining before halftime. Spencer Wood halted the Anteater run with a goal of his own, and Shane Hauschild followed by sinking a penalty shot. UCSB stepped up their defense and did not allow another Anteater goal before the break. UC Irvine led 6-3 going into halftime.
UCSB's momentum from the second half carried over to the third, as the offense found their rhythm. Reed Cotterill scored to bring the Gauchos within two. Boris Jovanovic then fired two consecutive balls into the back of the net to even the score. However, the run would not last, and the Anteaters scored three unanswered goals to take a 9-6 lead heading into the final quarter.
Both teams were eager to advance in the tournament, as they both turned up the defensive intensity for the final quarter. Neither side found the back of the net until Jovanovic scored his third goal of the game to get the Gauchos within two goals. The Anteaters answered to put them back up 10-7 with a little less than four minutes remaining. The Gauchos fought hard on the defensive side to get back into the game, but once again struggled with their shooting. The final buzzer sounded as the Anteaters topped the Gauchos for the third time this season, with a final score of 10-7.
Jovanovic led the Gauchos with a hattrick, and Halle, Hauschild, Cotterill, and Wood contributed one score apiece. Two goalies saw playing time for UCSB, with Justyn Barrios recording eight saves, and freshman Connor Macdonald saving four attempts.
UCSB Scorers: Jovanovic 3, Halle 1, Hauschild 1, Cotterill 1, Wood 1
UCSB Saves: Barrios 8, Macdonald 4
UC Irvine Scorers: Lena 2, Schuetze 2, K. Trush 1, Milos 1, Stieffel 1, Duffy 1, J. Trush 1, Polos 1
UC Irvine Saves: Matijevic 12