In front of a boisterous home crowd, the No. 8 UCSB men’s water polo team defeated No. 9 UC Irvine, 13-12, in a sudden-death overtime Saturday afternoon at Campus Pool. Senior driver Daniel Natalizio scored the game-winner two minutes and 33 seconds into the third overtime period, giving the Gauchos their third consecutive win over the Anteaters this season.

With the victory, UCSB improves to 11-7 overall on the season while UCI falls to 6-8. The Gauchos have posted a 3-1 record against the Anteaters this season, including a 14-12 win on Oct. 5 in the team’s official Mountain Pacific Sports Federation game.

UCSB jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first quarter behind two goals from sophomore Milos Golic. UCI’s Max Parrague got the Anteaters on the board with 1:27 to play in the first, cutting the Gauchos’ advantage to 2-1. UCSB had the final say, though, as Miles Price scored during a six-on-five opportunity with 17 seconds in the quarter to stretch the Gauchos’ lead to 3-1.

After giving up a goal to Griffin Lerman in the first 30 seconds of the second quarter, UCSB went on a four-goal run to take a 7-2 lead with 50 seconds to play in the first half. Parrague’s second of the game during a man-up advantage cut the UCSB lead to 7-3 at halftime.

Down, but not out, UCI rebounded in the third quarter and outscored UCSB 4-1 behind a pair of Lerman goals to trail by just one at 8-7 after three quarters. A little over three and a half minutes into the fourth, the Anteaters were able to tie the game for the first time with a goal from Greg Enloe and then took the lead at 9-8 on Lerman’s fourth goal of the game during a six-on-five advantage.

With 1:28 to play in regulation time, Natalizio tied the game at 9-9 with a six-on-five goal. Irvine responded with a man-up goal of its own to recapture the lead with 46 seconds to play. Luckily for UCSB, Sean Castillo found the back of the net with just 13 seconds on the clock to tie the game up at 10-10 and send the teams into overtime.

Golic scored the lone goal of the first of two three-minute overtime periods with a five-meter penalty shot to put the Gauchos on top 11-10. With just one second on the clock in the first overtime, UCI drew an ejection and was able to capitalize on the advantage 16 seconds into the next overtime period, tying the game at 11.

UCSB went ahead 12-11 on Stefan Partelow’s second goal of the game during a man-up counterattack with 1:11 to play, but the Anteaters deadlocked the game during the last minute when Lerman was fouled outside the five-meter and picked up the ball and shot, scoring UCI’s 12th goal and sending the contest into sudden-death overtime.

UCI won the sprint to open the third overtime period, but its first shot was knocked down by goalie Michael Robinson. UCSB was able to get several shots off, but one sailed over the cage and two were deflected by Anteaters goalie Matt Johnson. Two minutes and 33 seconds into the period, Natalizio scored on a backhand from outside the UCI goal’s right post, giving the Gauchos the 13-12 victory.

Lerman led all players with five goals while Golic led the Gauchos with four. Robinson tied his career-high of 14 saves in the win.

UCSB will be back in action at 3 p.m. Friday in a nonconference match against UC San Diego at Campus Pool. Admission is free.

Lisa Skvarla is UCSB‘s assistant media relations director.