Gauchos can’t capitalize on power plays, fall to USC

No. 2 USC scored on five power plays and beat  No. 5 UCSB, 10-6, in a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation water polo match in front of a full house at Campus Pool on Sunday afternoon.

With the loss, UCSB falls to 13-7 overall and 1-2 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play. The Trojans improve to 13-2 and 4-0 in league games.

USC capitalized on its six-on-five possessions, scoring during five of its eight power plays. On the flipside, the Gauchos scored on just three of their 13 six-on-fives.

UCSB drew first blood when Matt Gronow scored with 5:55 on the clock in the first quarter. Two and a half minutes later, the Trojans drew an ejection and Peter Kurzeka converted the power play.

Less than a minute later, Teddy Zhang turned his defender in two-meters and fired a shot into the back of the USC goal to regain the Gaucho lead.

The Trojans had the last word in the first quarter when Jeremy Davie scored the first of his three goals during a six-on-five with just six seconds to go.

Gronow opened scoring in the second with a man-up goal with 5:33 on the clock. Kurzeka countered with a six-on-five goal of his own to tie the game at 3-3.

Just over a minute later, the tide changed as Forest Monroe scored for USC, giving the Trojans their first lead of the game, which they never relinquished. With 31 seconds to go in the half, Nikola  Vavic tallied a man-up goal and USC took a 5-3 advantage.

The two teams battled through a scoreless four and half minutes to open the second half before Zhang got the crowd roaring with his backhand goal with 3:31 to go in the third quarter.

The Trojans’ response subdued the crowd as they poured in five unanswered goals to take a 10-4 lead with 5:23 remaining in the game.

Jesse Gillespie scored a pair of six-on-five goals in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter, but the Gaucho comeback fell short as USC picked up the 10-6 victory.

Jay Lovero tallied eight saves in the goal for the Gauchos while Joel Dennerley had eight for the Trojans.