SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Fresh off their first-ever Triton Invitational first place finish over the weekend, the UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team defeated Shanghai Water Polo Team, a fully professional water polo squad based in China, 14-9 in an exhibition at Campus Pool on Monday afternoon.
It took no less than three minutes for senior utility Ivan Gvozdanovic to find the back of the Shanghai net to give the Gauchos the first lead of the game.
Shanghai pulled a goal back with 2:41 left in the opening frame, but freshman attacker Mason Chambliss converted on a penalty shot to extend the UCSB lead to 3-1 at the end of the first quarter.
After the visitors scored another goal, Nangle drew an exclusion inside the two-meter area, leaving Puentes to power a penalty shot down the middle to restore the four-goal lead with 2:54 left in the first half.
The Gauchos would earn yet another penalty shot after Shanghai scored again, this time drawn by sophomore utility Connor Moynihan. Freshman attacker Logan Sutter's shot into the bottom left corner saw the Gauchos head into the half with a 7-3 lead.
Shanghai opened with the first two goals of the second half, but the Gauchos went on a 4-1 run, culminating in a Sutter pass connecting with freshman attacker Colton Gregory at the back post to take an 11-6 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Shanghai would again score the opening goal in the final period, but Santa Barbara would rattle off three in a row, including a connection between junior attacker Spencer Wood and sophomore attacker Tommy Hawkins, to lead 14-7.
The Chinese team would go on to score a pair of goals in the dying minutes of the game for the match to end 14-9.
"It was a great performance against a strong team. It's good to get experience against an international side that does things a bit differently than college teams. I thought that was good for our team and we reacted well. Since we were playing a foreign team, it added a bit of excitement to it and the guys were ready to go," said 15th year head coach Wolf Wigo.
Eleven different players scored goals for the Gauchos in the exhibition, continuing the theme from UCSB's games at the Triton Invitational in which several players contributed to the program's first 4-0 start since 2013.
"In the past when we've had successful seasons, we've had a lot of players contributing. It makes it really hard to focus on one, two, or three players. When teams are scouting us, it's hard to come up with a game plan. Really, the best thing about our team this year is that we're strong and three-deep at every position, and that's extremely rare," added Wigo.
The Gauchos will play at the Inland Empire Classic in Redlands next weekend, on Saturday, Sept. 14 and Sunday, Sept. 15.