No. 5 Gauchos Drop High-Octane Conference Opener 17-16 to No. 3 Pacific

Spencer Wood (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Spencer Wood (Photo by Jeff Liang)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – A maximum-capacity crowd was treated to a back-and-forth, high-scoring match between the fifth-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team and No. 3 Pacific at Campus Pool on Sunday afternoon, but a last-minute goal from Pacific's Luis Araya gave the Tigers their second win over the Gauchos this season in as many tries.

"The offense was great, but the problem is we didn't want to be in a game like this. That's the way they play; high scoring games, 15+ goals. We talked about how having a low-scoring game would be better for us. It didn't go the way we wanted to, but we played well. We have to keep our heads up," said head coach Wolf Wigo after the match to the media.

The Gauchos battled back from a 5-3 first quarter deficit to tie the game up at 9-9 at halftime, powered by a pair of goals from both sophomore attacker Sam Nangle and junior attacker Cole Brosnan.

The stalemate continued throughout the third quarter and into the fourth, with each team scoring five goals in the third period as Santa Barbara twice rallied back from two-goal gaps with each score coming from a different player.

UCSB took the first lead of the final quarter off a Nangle shot from outside the two-meter area, giving the Gauchos the 15-14 advantage for the first time in the match since late in the second quarter.

With 4:20 left in regulation, Araya would strike for Pacific to tie the game up at 15-all, but UCSB's senior attacker Jacob Halle scored on the power play at the 2:46 mark to restore the lead for the hosts.

The Tigers would cap off the high-flying affair with the game-tying and go-ahead goals at the 1:40 and 12-second marks from Jeremie Cote and Araya, respectively, to deal UCSB its fifth defeat in a row and fourth one-goal loss in that span.

The Gauchos continue Golden Coast Conference play on Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. at Long Beach State, before returning home for a match with Cal the following day at noon. Live stats for both games will be available on the men's water polo schedule page.

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