#2 UC Santa Barbara Storms into Avery, Shocks #1 Stanford in Men’s Water Polo

UCSB vs Stanford
Unbounded joy for UCSB as they beat #1 Stanford at Avery. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

Completing one of the greatest runs of water polo success in recent memory, UC Santa Barbara stormed into Avery Aquatic Center and beat top-ranked Stanford 15-10. The Gauchos, ranked second in the latest Collegiate Water Polo Association Varsity poll, broke out to an early 3-1 lead on the strength of goals by Leo Yuno—the first of his four scores—Cole Brosnan and his brother Ryan. Defense, integral to UCSB’s early success, was also featured. Goalie Danny Roland, who has been essential to the team’s early success, stopped Stanford’s Tyler Abramson on a penalty shot late in the period to preserve the two goal advantage.

ucsbYuno scored the first two goals of the second period and assisted on Ryan Brosnan’s second goal to push UCSB’s advantage to 6-1, a lead all the more surprising because yesterday Wolf Wigo’s team went to overtime to beat Pepperdine 16-15 in Santa Barbara, the team’s second win over the Wave in the last two weeks.

As the second period was drawing to a close, Olympian Ben Hallock got on the board, then scored early in the third to cut the Cardinal deficit to three. But the Gauchos were not to be denied, even as they ended up being outscored 5 – 3 in the period. Three times the UCSB lead was trimmed to two, but each time Roland and his defense stiffened, refusing to let the home team draw any nearer.

[On Deck with Danny Roland, UC Santa Barbara Men’s Water Polo Goalie]

The final frame proved to be decisive, as the visitors answered every score by Stanford, never allowing the nation’s number one team to draw within a goal. Frustration final wore out the home team; when Ivan Gvozdanovic scored with five minutes to go in the match, it ignited a streak of five-straight goals that put the game away.

UCSB vs Stanford

Goalie Danny Roland has been a catalyst to UCSB success. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

With the win, UCSB extends its best-ever start to 12-0, a run that includes wins over two #1 teams (Stanford and USC), #4 Cal, #5 Long Beach State and #7 Pepperdine (twice). It’s a remarkable string of success for the Gauchos, who last year chose not to compete in the Golden Coast Conference championship. They must now be considered strong contenders for their first NCAA title since the 1979 team won the program’s only national championship.

[UCSB Men’s Water Polo Beats #1 USC For First Time in Three Decades; Gauchos’ Best Start Ever]

Santa Barbara will play a third-straight match on Saturday when they face off against Fresno Pacific in Fresno; barring a major upset the Gauchos will move to number one in the CWPA Top 20 poll for the first time in their history. It will be the first time that a team other than Cal, Stanford, USC or UCLA—the so-called “Big Four—has been voted tops in the poll since 2013, when Pacific was deemed the nation’s best.

Stanford, which ascended to the nation’s top spot by virtue of UCSB’s win last Saturday over USC, the defending national champions, will look to rebound tomorrow against #7 UC Davis. But, that game is now a potential landmine for John Vargas’ squad; last weekend the Aggies beat Cal for the first time in at least three decades, and—as UCSB has now proven—members of the Big Four can no longer assume supremacy in NCAA water polo.

12 comments

    • Elena Juncal

      Barry Creighton Haha! Read and posted this this morning! So proud !!! 💪

    • Elena Juncal

      it sounds like they were awesome matches to watch. Especially this last one!

  1. David Moreno

    How does a #2 SHOCK a #1 team? For crying out loud there are number 2!?!? It’s not a shock! Had they been #20 then it’s a shock.

    • avatar
      Michael Randazzo

      Ha! Okay, we can quibble about the headline (and – in my defense – I was partial to the team that was second in the nation last year). So, call me a doubter AND a practitioner of hyperbole.

      BUT, are you not stunned by this outcome? Or, did you drink the “Gaucho juice” a long time ago? I thought the Pepperdine game was an indicator of a bad outcome at Avery; according to Wigo it was actually an indicator of how ready they were to beat the Cardinal.

      So, yes, I’m “shocked” – and happy too. Hope you enjoy this moment!

      Your correspondent

  2. Sidney Tran

    Go Gauchos!

  3. Kathleen Bentrum

    Now were talking these are the speedos I like on the right body. Lol