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Defense Powers No. 3 Gauchos to GCC Semis

Danny Roland (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Danny Roland (Photo by Jeff Liang)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – On its first night hosting the 2022 GCC Tournament on Friday, the No. 3 seed UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team overcame a slow start to defeat No. 6 San Jose State 9-7.

Goalscorers: Hawkins (3), McFarland, Brosnan, Gregory, Chambliss, Oriskovich, Redoutey

Saves: Danny Roland (15)

The Spartans (10-16) jumped ahead as the Gauchos (14-12) conceded the first three goals of the game, but it could have been worse if not for a huge stop on a penalty shot by senior goalkeeper Danny Roland. Colton Gregory and Brock Zamanian scored in the final minutes of first to bring UCSB within one.

Santa Barbara's momentum continued into the second. Mason Chambliss took a pass from Tommy Hawkins and put in a deep shot from the left side. Hawkins followed with a goal of his own from almost the same spot, giving the Gauchos their first lead of the game 4-3 midway through the period.

Hawkins scored again from straightaway to open the second half, giving UCSB a 5-4 advantage. The Gauchos doubled their lead with one of their best goals of the night a few minutes later, moving it around before Chambliss found James Oriskovich for a shot from center that just barely beat the shot clock. Dash McFarland made it 7-4 with a goal in deep to close the third.

In the final quarter, Ryan Brosnan answered a Spartan goal with one of his own to put the Gauchos back up by three goals. Hawkins sealed his hat trick in the closing minutes to give UCSB another three-goal cushion, and the Gauchos were able to run the clock out from there.

Led by Roland, UCSB's defense dominated in the second half, rarely giving SJSU any open seams to shoot through. The All-GCC Honorable Mention Roland finished with 15 huge saves, tying a season-high. He now has at least 12 saves in seven of his last eight outings.

Hawkins continued his hot streak with a season-high three goals for the second straight game. He has scored at least two goals in six straight.

The Gauchos will now face No. 2 Long Beach State in the GCC Semifinals on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.