LOS ANGELES, Calif. – After defeating No. 6 Pepperdine for the third time this season, the top-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team suffered their first defeat of the season against No. 2 UCLA in the SoCal Invitational semifinal. They will play the loser of the match between No. 3 Stanford and No. 4 Pacific tomorrow morning.
UCSB 14, No. 6 Pepperdine 10
It was junior attacker Cole Brosnan who once again was up to the task of scoring early goals for the Gauchos, finding the back of the net 56 seconds in to put UCSB ahead 1-0.
Pepperdine kept it close for the rest of the first quarter, trading goals with UCSB to eventually see the first quarter end 5-4 in favor of the Gauchos.
Junior attacker and Golden Coast Conference Player of the Week Leo Yuno's two goals started a 5-2 second frame for UCSB, as senior attacker Jacob Halle, sophomore driver Ryan Brosnan, and freshman attacker Mason Chambliss helped extend the lead to 10-6 at the half.
It would be a slow third quarter, as Balazs Kosa of Pepperdine and Halle exchanged goals, with Halle's coming on the power play.
The Gauchos and Waves would again match each other in the fourth quarter, scoring three goals apiece as UCSB's lead proved to be enough and the Gauchos won 14-10.
Gvozdanovic scored two more goals in the final quarter for the hat trick, and he added an assist in what has been his best offensive showing of the season so far.
Junior defender Mason McQuet recorded three assists and four steals.
The previous encounters between the two foes this campaign saw Santa Barbara win each game 11-5 and 16-15 in overtime, respectively.
No. 2 UCLA 9, UCSB 8
Head coach Wolf Wigo's team had found the first goal in eight games in a row before UCLA's Andy Rodgers scored on the power play three minutes into the first quarter to put UCLA up 1-0 in the SoCal Invite semifinal.
McQuet responded with a goal at the 2:06 mark, but just like in the Gauchos' earlier match, each team would trade goals for the remainder of the period as Rodgers scored again in the final minute for UCLA to take a 3-2 lead.
Jake Cavano's goal at the start of the second quarter gave the Bruins their first two-goal lead of the day, making the score 4-2.
Nangle and Cole Brosnan scored on opposite sides of a goal from UCLA's Ashworth Molthen to narrow the deficit to 5-4, and then Halle assisted Nangle with 1:19 left in the half as the score was once again even at 5.
However, Molthen scored with just two seconds left until halftime to send UCLA ahead 6-5.
The game remained a tight affair throughout the third quarter, when Gvozdanovic fed Halle to tie the game up at 6 apiece with 1:46 gone.
UCLA's Matthew Kacura put the hosts in the driver's seat once again, but sophomore utility Connor Moynihan brought the game back into deadlock with his power play goal on another assist from Gvozdanovic.
Kacura found the back of the cage with 2:40 remaining in what would be the final score of the third quarter, as UCLA took an 8-7 lead into the final period.
Yuno converted a Gvozdanovic assist into the first goal of the 4th quarter, with 4:39 left in the match, to level the scoreline yet again at 8-8.
With just 45 seconds left, Molthen put away the final goal of the game as UCLA dealt the Gauchos their first loss of the season, 9-8.
In addition to his hat trick of assists, Gvozdanovic also recorded five steals.
Roland made seven saves, including a penalty shot save in the second quarter, and added three steals, having played all four quarters of the game.
The Gauchos outshot UCLA 31-23, forcing 13 saves out of goalkeeper Alex Wolf, and held the Bruins to just 3 successful power plays on 7 opportunities in the loss.
UCSB will face the losing team in the second semifinal between No. 3 Stanford and No. 4 Pacific, who will play their match at 5:20 p.m., for the third-place title tomorrow.
Live stats for the match, set to take place at 11:30 a.m., will be available on the men's water polo schedule page.