SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The No. 7 UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team put forth a strong effort in its home season-openers Thursday night, defeating No. 11 UC San Diego, 16-13, and keeping things close against a talented No. 2 UCLA side, 10-7.
UCSB vs. UC San Diego
The Gauchos (8-2) defeated the Tritons (6-2) 16-13 to open the day, powered by a game-high four goals from junior Ivan Gvozdanovic. Four other Gauchos finished with a brace, as UCSB reeled off its fifth straight win.
In what was an action-packed affair throughout, the Tritons jumped out of the gates with a pair of goals in the opening minutes. UCSB's Leo Yuno, Gvozdanovic and Spencer Wood all found the scoresheet, but UCSD would take a 4-3 advantage into the second quarter.
Santa Barbara caught fire in the second period, beginning with a Gvozdanovic goal off a long outlet pass from junior goalkeeper Tiago Bonchristiano. Jacob Halle, Wood and Boris Jovanovic all added goals as UCSB embarked on a 4-0 run to take a 7-4 lead.
After grabbing control of the match, the Gauchos didn't trail the rest of the way. A pair of third quarter goals to open the second half brought UCSD within one at 8-7, but that was the closest the visitors would get. Back-to-back third quarter goals by Sam Nangle helped widen the gap by putting UCSB up 11-8. Gvozdanovic would do the same midway through the final frame, capping another 4-0 Gaucho run which essentially iced the game.
Bonchristiano defended the cage to the tune of eight saves. Halle finished with four assists, while Gvozdanovic added an assist and two steals.
UCSB vs. UCLA
Facing the No. 2 team in the nation hours later, the Gauchos hung tight, even taking a 3-2 lead on a Gvozdanovic goal just before the halftime break. However, the Bruins would come out strong in the third quarter, winning it by a score of 6-1 to take a commanding 8-4 advantage into the fourth quarter. UCLA went on to claim a 10-7 victory despite a spirited defensive performance from Bonchristiano, which saw him tally 12 saves and a steal.
The Gauchos' second match of the day proved much slower-paced than its predecessor, with one goal being scored in the opening period. Yuno opening the scoring for the home side at the 2:34 mark of the second. Goals from Jovanovic and Gvozdanovic followed soon after to give UCSB its 3-2 lead.
UCSB's only third quarter goal came from Halle, off another assist by Gvozdanovic. The fourth quarter saw the Gauchos outscore UCLA for the second time in the contest, with a pair of goals coming from Jovanovic and one coming from Yuno.
Jovanovic finished with a match-high three goals, giving him a team-high 30 for the year, while Yuno added one. Gvozdanovic registered three steals to go along with his two assists, while Jovanovic and Mason McQuet notched two steals apiece.
After splitting the day's games, the Gauchos are now 2-2 against ranked opponents this season. They will be back in action this weekend at the Aggie Roundup for four matches, starting with No. 1 USC on Saturday at 9:15 a.m.