Gauchos Late Surge, Strong Defense Pushes Team Past No. 9 Pepperdine

Boris Jovanovic (Photo Ron Robertson)
Boris Jovanovic (Photo Ron Robertson)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - In a tightly contested clash of two top-10 teams, the No. 8 UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team used two late fourth quarter goals and a strong defensive effort to hold off No. 9 Pepperdine by a score of 9-8 on Thursday night at Campus Pool.

Pepperdine started off strong, and led 2-1 for most of the first quarter. After over three minutes of scoreless play, Shane Hauschild fired a cross-pool pass to Cole Brosnan on a counterattack goal that helped the Gauchos tie the game 2-2. The teams stayed locked up at two, until Boris Jovanovic found the back of the net with two seconds remaining in the quarter to give the Gauchos the lead entering the second quarter.

UCSB had complete control of the second quarter, as they outscored Pepperdine 3-1 in the period. To start the quarter, Reed Cotterill powered a shot past the goalkeeper's hand, and Adam Lott took a perfect pass from Hauschild to score his second goal of the game to put the Gauchos up 5-2. Pepperdine responded with one goal, but Ivan Gvodzanovic beamed an outside shot off of the outside post and into the goal to help UCSB maintain a three point lead entering the half.

Pepperdine came out with a new physicality in the second half, holding the Gauchos scoreless in the third quarter. The Waves opened the quarter by scoring two goals in the first couple minutes to get within one. A strong Gauchos defense halted the Pepperdine run there. With Pepperdine attacking on three power plays late in the quarter, Cotterill blocked an inside shot, and Justyn Barrios followed with two consecutive lunging saves to keep the Gauchos lead at one entering the fourth quarter.

Pepperdine tied the game in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, and both teams were held scoreless until about halfway through the period. On a power play with 4:03 left in the game, Gvodzanovic lobbed a ball up near the front of the cage that set up Josh Jordan for a tip-in goal to give the Gauchos the lead. On the ensuing possession, Barrios made a save and fired a pass to Gvodzanovic on the counterattack, where the star sophomore scored his second goal of the match to give UCSB a two point advantage. Pepperdine scored with 1:56 remaining to cut the lead to one, but Jovanovic put the game away with a powerful outside shot, pumping his fist towards the crowd in celebration.

Jovanovic, Gvodzanovic and Lott led the Gauchos attack with two goals apiece, while Jordan, Brosnan, and Cotterill also contributed in the winning effort. Barrios anchored the strong defensive effort with thirteen saves from the cage.

The Gauchos improve to 9-5 on the season and look to make a splash against No. 1 USC on Sunday at Campus Pool at noon.

  1 2 3 4 Final
Pepperdine 2 1 2 3 8
UCSB 3 3 0 3 9

Pepperdine Goals: Asic 3, Toth 2, Urban 1, Mooney 1, Rockwell 1

Pepperdine Saves: Rhodes 10

UCSB Goals: Gvodzanovic 2, Jovanovic 2, Lott 2, Jordan 1, Brosnan 1, Cotterill 1

UCSB Saves: Barrios 13