MWP: Gauchos come closer against fourth-ranked USC

UCSB took fourth-ranked USC down to the wire, dropping a tight 11-9 decision to the Trojans in the quarterfinals of the Southern California Invitational men’s water polo tournament on Saturday.

Earlier, the Gauchos defeated Pepperdine 11-7

The Gauchos got off to a fast start against 12th-ranked Pepperdine. Brendan McElroy scored his first of two goals in the game to help produce a 4-1 lead.

UCSB quickly opened the score with three unanswered goals in the second period. Freshman Shane Hauschild netted the first goal of the second period on a 7:26 strike. Junior utility Chase Racich scored his 12th goal of the season to increase the Gaucho lead to 5-2. With another power play goal from Brendan McElroy, UCSB dominated the second quarter on both sides of the ball to lead, 6-2, at the half.

Racich continued the dominant play with an early third period goal to increase the lead to 7-2. Midway through the period, Pepperdine finally got on the board with its third score of the match. The Gauchos kept its foot on the gas pedal as UCSB tallied another run of three straight goals that stretched into the final period. Juniors Tor Jensen and Cameron Yates each scored in the third period, while Kevin Cappon capped off the run with his second goal of the game at the 6:20 mark in the fourth quarter.

UCSB looked to avenge its previous two losses to the Trojans this season.

Falling into an early 2-0 hole, UCSB bounced back with a run of three straight goals. Junior Nicholas Jordan opened the scoring with a two-meter shot and Bryan Snyder and Cameron Yates each scored a power play goal to give the Gauchos the 3-2 edge.

Much like the last meeting, the Trojans erupted for another five goal outburst to extend the score to 7-3 in the third quarter. After being completely shutout in the second period, UCSB bounced back with urgency in the third quarter. Snyder jump-started the mini Gaucho run with another 6-on-5 goal at the 5:30 mark. With a score from Hauschild and another power play goal from Alkateb, UCSB pulled within one, 7-6. USC answered with a late third quarter goal to make the score 8-6 heading into the final period.

UCSB once again pulled within one from the lead after a 6:03 score from Alkateb. With back-to-back goals from USC, the Gauchos faced an 11-8 deficit with less than four minutes remaining. UCSB was only able to score one more power play goal from freshman Josh Jordan. Ultimately, the Trojans escaped with a narrow 11-9 win against the Gauchos.