Pacific Holds off UC Santa Barbara 11-10 for Third Place @ 2019 MPSF Invitational

Engin Ege Colak's goal with a minute left was the difference as Pacific claimed 3rd place at the MPSF Invite. Photo Courtesy: University of the Pacific Athletics

LOS ANGELES, CA. The Pacific Tigers (10-1) led most of the way in tight game which was tied only once late in the fourth quarter, and held off #1 UCSB (15-2) 11-10 in the third place game of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Invitational at UCLA’s Spieker Aquatic center.

mpsf-shield-finalPacific attacker Engin Ege Colak broke a 10-10 tie with a deft turn and finish with a minute remaining in the fourth quarter to give the his team the win.  Victory wasn’t secured until the Tigers got a key field block from junior Eli Lule during a Gaucho power play in the game’s closing minute.

“I told Wolf (Wigo) it was a great game…we ended up being lucky, but better be lucky than good,” Pacific Head Coach James Graham noted after the game.

But, these Tigers are good too—as Graham summed it up: “We have a lot of weapons, but it’s not just the weapons. It’s about our ability to move the ball together and read our options. Our opponents can take away certain players, but they can’t take away them all.

“If we can be patient, we will find the holes in the defense,” he added.

Despite only one loss a month into the season, Graham see his Tigers as a work in progress.

“We are a team that is willing to take calculated risks…we have older players and younger players,” he said. “It’s about growing together and understanding how we play and what we are best at. Now we need to go back and get those things fine-tuned.”

Pacific got three goals each from Ege Colak, Jeremie Cote, and Stockton native Matthew Hosmer in a balanced attack.  Aussie fifth-year senior Luke Pavillard was held off the scoresheet but chipped in 4 drawn exclusions. Sophomore goalie Jon Barry had 11 saves and steal in the cage.

September 28, 2019; Spieker Aquatics Complex, Los Angeles, CA, USA; MWP: USC Trojans vs University of the Pacific Tigers; Photo credit: Catharyn Hayne

Pacific’s Luke Pavillard. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

The top ranked Gauchos showed their mettle in a game they trailed after the first possession. Juniors Cole Brosnan and Leo Yuno tallied three goals each and Queenslander Sam Nangle pitched in two from close range. Serbian senior Ivan Gvozdanovic played a brilliant game with a goal, five assists, and three steals. Danny Roland made several highlight reel saves in collecting seven saves

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

The Tigers came out of the gate fast, scoring twice in the first two minutes on a natural by Hosmer and a power play by Ege Colak. Brosnan answered for the Gauchos with just under two minutes left in the period to cut the Tiger lead to 2-1.  On the ensuing possession, Tiger senior Luis Araya netted a backhand for a 3-1 Pacific lead at the quarter break.

Lots of action in the second but UCSB falls just short

The second stanza featured seven goals combined, with the Gauchos collecting four. Canadian freshman Jeremie Cote gave the Tigers a three-goal advantage with a 6/5 goal at the 6:26 mark. Yuno answered for the Gauchos on a 6/5 of his own.  Then, after a Pacific turnover, Brosnan scored on another extra man opportunity for UCSB to draw the Gauchos back to within one at 4-3. Pacific made good use of a 30 second timeout to set up Ege Colak for a 6 on 5 tally to put Pacific up 5-3.  Thirteen seconds later Yuno fed Nangle to bring the score to 5-4.  A minute later, Hosmer drilled a bar in power play goal to bring the count to 6-4. UCSB drew an exclusion and junior Spencer Wood made the goal which brought the halftime score to 6-5.

Pacific struck only 19 seconds into the third quarter courtesy of Cote. The teams played a scoreless 4 minutes until Cote gave the Tigers an 8-5 lead on a penalty shot. UCSB immediately answered with a power play goal by Nangle and tacked on another 6/5 marker by Yuno just 43 seconds later, cutting the Tiger lead to 8-7.  Cote converted another Tiger extra man opportunity with 1:36 to put Pacific up by 2 going to the final period.

September 28, 2019; Spieker Aquatics Complex, Los Angeles, CA, USA; MWP: UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs UCLA Bruins; Photo credit: Catharyn Hayne

Cole Brosnan (white cap) scored three times—but the Gauchos fell just short for the second straight game. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

The final quarter featured plenty of drama. Pacific drew the first exclusion and a chance to extend their two-goal lead, but Roland delivered a key save for UCSB and Gvozdonavic followed with his only goal of the game when he stepped out and drilled in a shot to make it 9-8 Tigers with 6:22 to play.

Three minutes later Hosmer converted a 6 on 5 for Pacific for a 10-8 margin with 3:22 remaining.  After a UCSB timeout, Gvozdanovic tossed an arching pass to a driving Yuno, who turned and finished to bring UCSB back within one. The Gauchos survived a man down situation and went to the other end, drew an ejection. After a Yuno shot, UCSB corralled the rebound, enabling Gvozdanovic to feed Brosnan, for the equalizer at 10 with 1:22 to play.  On the next Pacific possession, Ege Colak gave Pacific the lead for good. UCSB had one last opportunity to tie, but Yuno’s shot from the right-hander’s deep wing was blocked by Lule.

Looking ahead

Both teams head into October with a lot of confidence—and a full slate of games against top ten opponents.

Pacific will host UC Davis on Friday, Oct. 4 before hosting likely #1 Stanford on Sunday, Oct. 6 in a rematch of the semifinal won by Stanford 15-14.

UCSB will play host to #5 USC at their Campus Pool on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 12 p.m. This will be a rematch of their first victory over the Trojans since the 1990 season, when they beat USC 13-9 two weeks ago.

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