No. 6 Gauchos Top No. 11 UC Irvine in Road Finale

Tommy Hawkins (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Tommy Hawkins (Photo by Tony Mastres)

IRVINE, Calif. – The No. 6 UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team continued its dominance over Golden Coast Conference (GCC) opponents this season Friday night in Irvine, downing the No. 11 Anteaters 14-9 in the Gauchos' 2018 road finale.

Boris Jovanovic and Ivan Gvozdanovic both led the Gauchos with a hat trick and an assist each. Jacob Halle and Nathan Puentes both notched braces, while four other Gauchos found the scoresheet.

The win moves Santa Barbara (18-8, 3-1) to 8-1 against GCC foes on the year. With just one contest remaining this year, UCSB's .692 win percentage is tied for its highest since 1991.

The Anteaters took the early advantage, scoring twice in the opening three minutes of the game. However, Jovanovic would put UCSB on the board with 4:11 to go, and Gvozdanovic scored twice in the final minute to put the visitors up 3-2 heading into the second.

A high-scoring second quarter would also go UCSB's way, as the Gauchos ended the period on a 4-1 run to take an 8-5 lead into halftime. Gvozdanovic and Halle both scored twice and Blake Spiller put away his lone score for the day from long range with just four ticks left on the clock.

Similar to the UCSB's win over No. 8 Long Beach State last week, The Gauchos came out of the halftime break with renewed energy on the defensive end, shutting out the Anteaters until the fourth quarter. Sam Nangle opened the third quarter scoring with a shot from center at the 1:36 mark, and Jovanovic secured his second goal with 42 seconds to go.

UCI's offense would get back on track with three goals in the final frame, but UCSB answered with four of its own. Cole Brosnan and Leo Yuno book-ended the period with their only goals of the night, clinching the 14-9 win.

Goalkeeper Tiago Bonchristiano was stellar once again, racking up 10 saves and a steal. Will Rodosky chipped in on the defensive end with two steals of his own. Jovanovic led the way with three drawn exclusions, while Halle had a team-high two assists.

UCSB returns to Campus Pool next Saturday, Nov. 10 at 12:00 p.m. to face No. 7 Pepperdine in the Gauchos' season-finale.