For the second time this season, the Bruins have defeated the Gauchos.
No. 2 UCLA men’s water polo (11-1) faced off against No. 5 UC Santa Barbara (15-4) and came away with a 15-11 victory. This was UCLA’s 12th consecutive win against UCSB dating back to 2012.
The last time the Bruins and Gauchos squared off came during the semifinal round of the SoCal Invitation on Sept. 28, when the Bruins posted a 9-8 win.
After their one-score contest last time, junior utility Felix Brozyna-Vilim said the Bruins were not going to underestimate the power of the Gauchos.
“They’re a great time, and we were ready for that,” Brozyna-Vilim said. “But we had to treat them like any other team and go into the game with a solid mentality.”
The Gauchos were coming into this game looking for revenge according to freshman attacker Andy Rodgers who came away with two goals Friday night.
Rodgers said the team prepared tirelessly for Friday’s march through its study of film and knocking down shooters – knowing that one of UCSB’s strongest aspects is its shooting technique.
“They have really strong shooters,” Rodgers said. “So, we had been working in and out of our zones this week to knock down their shooters and to stay back on their lefty center (utility Ivan Gvozdanovic).”
In addition to the energy brought from a previous win off the Gauchos, coach Adam Wright said the young core has helped motivate the team.
Out of the 15 goals Friday night, eight were scored by members of the freshman class – three by attacker Jack White, two from attacker Tommy Gruwell, two from Rodgers and one from center Gabe Discipulo.
Wright said he has seen the freshman class make an impact on the overall mindset of the team.
“The bottom line is that we are young, we are going to need every guy to be ready to perform,” Wright said. “It’s very different than where we were last year.”
Three Bruins posted a hat trick in the Bruins’ 15-goal offensive effort – White, Brozyna-Vilim and sophomore attacker Ashworth Molthen.
The Bruins held the lead for the entirety of the game, stretching their lead to 8-2 at the end of the first half.
The Bruins extended their lead to a game-high seven goals in the third period, ultimately leading 11-6 going into the final quarter.
Wright said the energy Friday was much more consistent than previous games.
“We’re still having some lapses on our defensive side,” Wright said. “I thought our attack was much better and our centers were really good tonight. Our movement was better and we were creating more opportunities for ourselves.”
Redshirt senior goalkeeper Alex Wolf recorded 11 saves on the night. Freshman goalkeeper Bernardo Maurizi made an appearance in relief for Wolf and posted one save while conceding two goals in the final 4:04 of the game.
UCLA will return to Spieker Aquatics Center to host No. 3 Pacific on Oct. 18.