No. 2 Gauchos Set New Program Record, Edge No. 6 Pepperdine in OT Thriller in Doubleheader

Cole Brosnan (Eric Isaacs)
Cole Brosnan (Eric Isaacs)

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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team made history on Thursday afternoon at Campus Pool, winning 19-2 over Ottawa University of Arizona to set a new record for best start to a season in program history, and defeating No. 6 Pepperdine for the second time this season in an end-to-end 16-15 overtime match.

UCSB 19, Ottawa (AZ) 2

The Gauchos broke a 31-year-old program record with their 19-2 victory over Ottawa, starting the season with 10 wins in 10 games for the first time ever.

Santa Barbara enjoyed an 8-0 first quarter, which ballooned into a 14-1 halftime lead.

Senior driver Tommy Fellner and sophomore attacker Sam Nangle each had a pair of goals in the opening quarter for the Gauchos, whereas senior attacker Jacob Halle and sophomore driver Ryan Brosnan were at the double in the assist column themselves.

Sophomore utility Connor Moynihan scored three goals in a row at the end of the first quarter and the opening minute and a half of the second.

UCSB rode out a 5-1 second half for the win, nearly doubling up on the opposition's shots throughout the game.

Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Danny Roland earned the win after playing the first quarter. Junior goalkeeper Tiago Bonchristiano took over the reins afterward.

"It's great to do, but it wasn't something we were really focused on. It came along the way, so we're happy to have it. We played some really tough games, so it wasn't like we coasted to it. We had a lot of hard opponents, so that makes it satisfying," reacted UCSB head coach Wolf Wigo to the team's record-setting performance.

UCSB 16, No. 6 Pepperdine 15 (OT)

The Gauchos and Waves played out an enthralling matchup in a rematch of the two teams' second match on the first day of the Triton Invitational on Sept. 7.

UCSB took a 12-9 lead into the final minutes of the fourth quarter, but Pepperdine rattled off three goals in under two minutes to tie the game up.

Junior attacker Leo Yuno put the Gauchos ahead again at the 1:47 mark after finishing an assist from sophomore driver Ryan Brosnan, but it was only temporary as Pepperdine's Sean Ferrari scored with half a minute left in the match to send it to overtime.

The Gauchos conceded a penalty shot 49 seconds into the first overtime, which Balazs Kosa converted on to give Pepperdine its fourth lead of the game.

UCSB would go the rest of the first overtime without scoring, but reigning Golden Coast Conference player of the week Cole Brosnan tied the game up once again at 14-14 via an assist from sophomore driver Nathan Puentes with 2:20 left in the second overtime period.

Pepperdine's Curtis Jarvis set up Chris Dilworth to regain the lead for the visitors 17 seconds later.

Facing their first loss of the season and the prospects of a shock upset, the Gauchos drew a penalty foul from Pepperdine's Sean Ferrari with just 34 seconds left in the match.

Puentes tucked away his opportunity in the lower left corner of the cage to tie the game up for the eleventh time at 15-all.

The Waves took a timeout with 21 seconds left, then the Gauchos followed suit with seven seconds to go.

The Gauchos had possession after the timeout, which Roland played into the middle of the pool. A Pepperdine player initially stole it, but the Gauchos got the ball back and passed it to Cole Brosnan, who caught the defense off guard and put away the game's final chance into the top right corner, sending the Gaucho faithful among the standing room-only crowd at Campus Pool into raptures.

"That was all instinct. The ball comes in, they steal it, he didn't know what was going on. I come up, take it, shoot it and it went in. I used to always play with my brother in the pool and we would not call fouls so I played through it. I was just a bit smarter," said Brosnan of the goal to the media after the game.

"It was a really strange play, but it was the correct call. We set up a double post and we threw it up top. They did a good job of stealing the ball, but right after they stole the ball we put the ball under on them. It's a foul outside the five-meter line and [Cole] just did an amazing heads-up play- he shot it backhand right away and it was an amazing goal. Pepperdine played amazingly well and they're going to be big competition this year," added Wigo after the match.

The wild matchup featured seven UCSB leads, five for the Waves, and four lead changes, in addition to the eleven times the score was tied.

It was the closest game that the Gauchos have played so far this season.

The Gauchos ready themselves for a showdown with newly-named No. 1 Stanford, taking place in Palo Alto on Friday at 4 p.m.

"I think it's better for tomorrow. We know there's no relaxing. Any time you're playing a top team, it'll be a fight. Stanford hasn't played many hard games this year, and we've had now five or six battles. Also, three of our star players were out for much of the second half and overtime- Ivan [Gvozdanovic], Mason [McQuet], and Jacob [Halle]. They'll be well-rested, but that's why it was a high-scoring game. That performance showed a lot about the team," said Wigo.

Live stats will be available on the men's water polo schedule page.

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