The UC Santa Barbara Men’s Water Polo team did everything they needed to and a little bit more on Saturday, as the Gauchos won a pair of home games, including their first ever Big West contest against Cal State Fullerton. UC Santa Barbara opened their Saturday with a 30-10 win over UC Merced, in which 27 different Gauchos featured. They then closed the day by earning their first Big West win in their first ever game in the conference, defeating Cal State Fullerton, 13-8.
FROM HEAD COACH WOLF WIGO
“It was a great day for us,” Wigo said. “We controlled both games, I was most impressed about the defense in the Fullerton game, we held them to two goals and then we were able to sub a lot, get a lot of players in the game, got all three goalies in, so that’s exactly what we were looking for heading into our next conference games next weekend and down the stretch. We’re in a good position to do what we need to do.”
NO. 12 UC SANTA BARBARA 30, UC MERCED 10
After watching Cal State Fullerton defeat UC Merced, 17-10, in the first action of Saturday’s tri-match schedule, the Gauchos jumped in the pool and jumped all over the Bobcats. It was 10-1 UC Santa Barbara after the first quarter, and the Gauchos’ lead was never in danger. With the clear advantage, UC Santa Barbara deployed 27 different players — every active Gaucho except for goalkeeper Levi Lentin, who was set to start the second game of the day. Twenty-four of those players registered at least one goal or assist, including goalkeeper Wyatt Pieretti, whose long outlet pass set up one of the 30 UC Santa Barbara goals. Zac Green led all scorers with four goals and added an assist for a game-high five points. Ryan McManigal, Griffin Pieretti, Billy Rankin and Dash McFarland each also recorded hat-tricks in the game.
NO. 12 UC SANTA BARBARA 13, CAL STATE FULLERTON 8
The Gauchos took control early again in their second game of the day, holding Cal State Fullerton to just two goals in the first half, while McFarland and Adam Gyenis each recorded first-half hat-tricks to put UC Santa Barbara up, 8-2, after 16 minutes of play. The key for the Gauchos was their defense, which recorded a season-high six field blocks against the Titans.
UC Santa Barbara extended their lead in the third quarter, with McFarland and Gyenis each scoring their fourth goals of the game, but Sam McKenzie’s score with 47 seconds left in the frame would turn out to be the Gauchos’ last of the afternoon. As the offense was held scoreless in the fourth quarter, UC Santa Barbara’s defense did enough to keep Cal State Fullerton’s comeback bid at bay and secure the victory.
The Gauchos will continue their first season of Big West play next weekend on the road in Northern California, as they are set to face No. 7 UC Davis on Saturday, October 14, at 1 p.m.