The UC Santa Barbara and Princeton Men’s Water Polo teams played an incredibly close match Tuesday morning, with the Gauchos rallying late to force overtime before the Tigers scored the decisive goal with just under two minutes left in the extra period.
Neither of the two top-10 teams led by more than two goals at any point, and the final margin was just one, at 11-10 in favor of the visitors.
Finn Genc led UC Santa Barbara with three goals, his fourth hat-trick of the season.
“It would have been a great win, but I think we can take a positive out of this,” Gaucho coach Wolf Wigo said. “I was happy with the whole game, I thought we kept our composure and played well throughout.
“We made some big plays when we needed to, and unfortunately, we missed the very last one.”
The game was close from the very beginning, with neither team able to open up more than a one-goal margin in the first half. Logan Sutter scored the game’s first goal, and Princeton answered with their first on the very next possession.
When the Tigers took the lead, Genc tied things up two minutes later. Gaucho goalkeeper Levi Lentin saved a penalty shot too, one of eight saves for him on the day.
Princeton led after the first quarter, but Dash McFarland scored early in the second to tie the game back up.
McFarland and Princeton’s Roko Pozaric traded goals to make the score 5-4 in favor of the visitors, but then Genc tied the game again. Pozaric scored just before halftime to give the Tigers a one-goal lead at the break.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, meaning when Sam McKenzie finally broke the drought with 6:47 left in the game, the scores were tied once again, 6-6.
Princeton scored next and actually extended their lead to two with 2:58 left to play, the largest lead of the day.
But the Gauchos came back and tied the game. Sutter scored with 1:31 left, and Mason Chambliss buried a shot with 32 seconds left, sending the game to overtime.
Santa Barbara scored first in the extra period, with Genc completing his hat-trick, but again Princeton scored two in a row to re-take the lead.
Adam Gyenis tied the game at 10 before the first half of overtime ended. There was only one goal in the second half of overtime, and it was the winner for the Tigers.
The Gauchos remain in Santa Barbara for their next match, hosting UC Irvine at Dos Pueblos High School on Saturday, Oct. 21 at noon.