By ARTHUR WILKIE
UCSB SPORTS WRITER
The UCSB men’s water polo team (15-7) dropped both of its matchups this weekend by one goal, first losing 9-8 to No. 7 Pacific on Saturday at Chris Kjeldsen Pool, then falling 14-13 to No. 2 Cal on Sunday at Spieker Aquatics Complex.
During Saturday’s match, Pacific outscored UCSB 4-1 in the first quarter. Pacific maintained the three-goal lead heading into the halftime break after both teams matched each other with two goals apiece in the second period.
The Gauchos fought back in the second half, with Adam Gyenis, Sam Nangle, Sawyer Rhodes and Connor Macdonald scoring for the blue and gold to better Pacific’s two-goal output in the third quarter and bring UCSB within one.
In a twist to the Gauchos’ comeback bid, Pacific’s Djordje Stanic struck first in the fourth quarter with 5:25 to go, crucially putting the Tigers up by two.
Pacific successfully held off the Gauchos to take the win, allowing a lone goal in the final period when Nathan Puentes struck with 3:36 to go.
During Sunday’s match against Cal, the Gauchos scored six goals in both the first and second periods to lead 12-7 at the half.
Rhodes had five goals in the first half, while Puentes had two. Nangle, Mason Chambliss, Tommy Hawkins, Dash McFarland and Leo Yuno each had two apiece.
Cal scored the only goal of the third quarter, when Max Casabella found the back of the cage with a shot at the six-minute mark.
In the final frame, the Golden Bears came all the way back to take the lead with 1:37 left on a Jack Deely effort. Puentes tied the game back up at 13-13 with 1:19 remaining on a penalty shot, but Cal’s Garrett Dunn put away the game-winner inside the final minute, dealing UCSB its fourth loss in the past five games.
Next weekend the Gauchos head to Santa Clara for the 2021 Santa Clara Rodeo Tournament. Game information can be found during the coming days at ucsbgauchos.com.