Cole Brosnan scored five goals, leading the No. 4 UC Santa Barbara men’s water polo team to a 13-9 upset of top-ranked USC on the second day of the Inland Empire Classic.
It was the Gauchos’ first win over the Trojans since 1990. UCSB is off to an 8-0 start. It has wins over No. 4 Cal and No. 5 Long Beach State.
UCSB later defeated Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 15-4 to match the program-record 9-0 start to the season set in 1988.
UCSB coach Wolf Wigo said a good start was a key against USC.
“We came out really strong, kind of like how we played against Cal,” said Wigo. “Everyone was up for it. Last time we played them they throttled us, so we spent a lot of time watching video to prepare for this game. The guys were pumped up. After 30 seconds, we could tell the team was on fire.
“We had a tough run at the beginning with the first six exclusions called against us, but every time we shut them down, got natural goals and were able to get the win.”
UCSB was in control early, taking a 4-1 lead inside the first five minutes of the first quarter, thanks to two goals from Brosnan and one each from sophomore attacker Sam Nangle and senior attacker Jacob Halle.
On the other side of the three-minute mark, USC’s Hannes Daube kickstarted a 3-1 run that saw the first period end with a slender 5-4 Gaucho lead.
The Gauchos held a one-goal advantage into the halftime break, 7-6.
Santa Barbara created some separation between in the third period. Senior utility Ivan Gvozdanovic scored just 26 seconds in, Brosnan scored at the three-minute mark and junior defender Mason McQuet put away a power-play opportunity for a 10-6 advantage.
USC pulled one back through Sam Slobodien with 2:34 left, but Brosnan immediately returned the favor with his fifth goal just over a minute later to make the score 11-7.
Junior attacker Leo Yuno, who also had two assists in the match, scored another power play goal for UCSB for the first score of the fourth quarter, extending the lead to 12-7.
USC’s Jake Ehrhardt and Matt Maier struck twice within a minute, but the Gauchos’ defending and McQuet’s power-play goal with six seconds left shut the door on a Trojan comeback.
Sophomore goalkeeper Danny Roland stayed in form in the win, making 10 saves with one assist and three steals.
“Ivan [Gvozdanovic] had a great weekend,” Wigo said “He played the whole game against USC against one of their best players, a starter for his national team, and shut him down. Something else that might not show up in the box score is the job that Jacob Halle and Mason McQuet did of shutting down USC’s centers.”
Against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Nangle scored four goals to lead 11 goal-scorers for the Gauchos.
Gvozdanovic recorded three assists and freshman attacker Logan Sutter had two of his own in UCSB’s final match of the tournament.
Junior goalkeeper Tiago Bonchristiano made 11 saves in the win, playing all 32 minutes.
“The team has a lot of confidence,” Wigo said. “We’ve won two tournaments in a row, and we’ve never had two wins over top-four teams this early in the season. No one else in the country has wins over top-four ranked teams right now. We didn’t squeak wins out either, we controlled both games throughout.”