Hosting Westcliff and No. 9 Pepperdine in its 2022 home openers on Thursday, the No. 8 UCSB men’s water polo team was in control all day as it claimed a pair of 12-8 victories.
Winners in five of their last six, the Gauchos improved to a record of 6-3. Pepperdine moves to 3-5 and Westcliff falls to 6-5.
UCSB 12, Pepperdine 8
On a day where three games were played at UCSB’s Campus Pool, the Gauchos and Waves provided Thursday’s marquee matchup to close out the evening. It was a contentious affair at times between two teams side-by-side in the national rankings, but UCSB showed why it owns the higher ranking, never trailing on the way to a 12-8 win.
Seniors Ryan Brosnan and Sam Nangle led the charge on offense. They put up three goals each, albeit in very different ways, as Brosnan fired in lasered in several deep shots and the 6-foot-4, 255-pound Nangle dominated in deep.
The Gauchos got out to a great start, earning a penalty on their first possession which senior attacker Tommy Hawkins put away to open the scoring. Nangle scored his first of the day on a power play several minutes later to make it 2-0.
The Waves fought back to tie it 2-2, but Brosnan put the Gauchos up for good with 1:37 left in the first, firing in a perfect long-ranged shot to the top left corner. A turnover on the following Pepperdine possession led to a breakaway for UCSB. Brosnan got behind the defense to score for the second time in less than 30 seconds.
Santa Barbara kept its momentum going, taking its largest lead, 6-2, with goals by Nangle and Logan Sutter. Pepperdine once again came back with three unanswered goals to end the half.
Right after halftime, senior goalkeeper Danny Roland got the Gauchos going with one of many great saves on the day. Sutter scored a penalty, Brock Zamanian put one in from deep to make it 8-5, and Roland once again made a huge stop on a 1-on-1 to maintain an 8-5 advantage.
Nangle sealed his hat trick with 40 seconds to go in the third, as UCSB moved it around to beat the high-pressing Pepperdine defense to find the big man with great position inside, making it 9-6.
The raucous Gaucho faithful kept the noise on high down the stretch and fourth quarter goals from Brosnan, Zamanian and Ryan Strauss capped off a great win.
Roland finished an outstanding performance with eight saves and three steals.
UCSB 12, Westcliff 8
In the first game of the day, the Gauchos were able to show off their depth giving valuable playing time to a lot of players. Centers Dash McFarland and Nangle commanded a ton of attention all game long, forcing the defense into tough positions while drawing six and three exclusions, respectively.
McFarland had a game-high three goals, while Nangle and Adam Gyenis went for two apiece. Six different Gauchos recorded an assist.
UCSB scored the first three goals, and despite Westcliff coming back to tie it on two occasions, the Gauchos never fell behind, ending the game on a 7-3 run.
Santa Barbara will play its next game at No. 7 Long Beach State this Sunday, Sept. 18 at 1 p.m.
Michael Jorgenson writes about sports for UCSB.