No. 6 men's water polo wins final home match

    The sixth-ranked UCSD men’s water polo squad completed its home schedule Nov. 7, defeating No. 9 UC Santa Barbara 11-6 before a crowd of 1,061 at Canyonview Pool. The team and the home crowd bid farewell to graduating co-captains Matthew Ustaszewski and Matt Ellis.

    Rebecca Drexler/Guardian file
    Aye aye, captains: UCSD men’s water polo defeated UC Santa Barbara 11-6 in front of 1,061 fans at Canyonview Pool on Senior Night. Senior co-captains Matthew Ustaszewski and Matt Ellis were honored before their final home match.

    Junior driver Brandon Borso opened the contest for the Tritons after winning the game-starting sprint and putting away the first of a game-high four goals barely one minute into the first quarter. Borso set the tempo for his team as redshirt sophomore hole set Chris Finegold, senior co-captain utility Ustaszewski, and junior utility Jonathan Hopkins were all able to pound the Gaucho defense for a 4-0 lead going into the final possession of the quarter.

    While UCSD sophomore goalie Colin McElroy was a seemingly impenetrable force throughout the first quarter, UCSB managed to get itself on the board with only three-tenths of a second remaining in the quarter when junior driver Travis Boettner led UCSD’s final counterattack in a sprint toward the UCSB goal.

    He was closely double-covered by Gaucho defensemen, who were able to strip him of McElroy’s pass and move it back to UCSD’s half of the tank and into the hands of senior Doug Arthur for an 8-meter bullet into the upper-right corner of the cage.

    Lori Drahota/Guardian
    aSenior Night: UCSD senior Matthew Ustaszewski looks to pass the ball to a teammate. He scored a goal in his final regular season home match as a Triton.

    The comfortable three-goal difference grew further in the Tritons’ favor in the second quarter when junior driver Clark Petersen rifled in a shot past UCSB second-string freshman goalie Rick Wright less than 90 seconds into play.

    On the next possession, Hopkins was awarded his first of two four-meter penalty shots, which he converted effortlessly, granting the Tritons a 6-1 advantage.

    The Triton defense remained powerful through the end of the first half. The only lapse occurred in the final two minutes on a cross pass which drew McElroy from the center of the cage to the right post. The Gaucho wing pump-faked him twice before sending a pass across the face of the goal for the left wing, freshman Ross Sinclair, to shoot far out of McElroy’s reach, and leaving the score at 6-2 for the halftime break.

    UCSB entered the pool in the third quarter like a school of bloodthirsty sharks. In the first minute of play, the Gaucho hole defender came down hard on Hopkins as he drove through the center, fouling Hopkins in dead time and earning him a second four-meter penalty shot. Hopkins scored on the opportunity, but that would be the last time in the quarter that UCSD would be able to beat the Gaucho defense.

    ‘We slowed down in the third quarter,’ Finegold said. ‘We just didn’t have much intensity on offense or defense.’

    The subsequent three goals belonged to the Gauchos, starting with a well-placed, upper corner shot at the 4:45 mark in the quarter.

    On the next possession, with the shot clock nearly expired and most players on either team already counterattacking away from the play, UCSB fed the ball into their hole set where two UCSB field players and McElroy all crashed in a torrent of water. However, as McElroy submerged under the impending defense, the UCSB set man was able to wrist flick a weak lob over the head of McElroy and into the water on the goal line where it floated in for the second consecutive Gaucho score.

    The final goal of the quarter was held off until the final set offense of the quarter when UCSB arranged its offense against the Tritons and were able to release a bullet from the right wing into back of the UCSD net, giving the Gauchos their closest score of the game at 7-5.

    UCSD initiated the final quarter of play with an all-star performance by ‘Mr. Clutch,’ Brandon Borso, as he came up with a full, unopposed hat trick in the first 3:41, giving UCSD the 10-5 advantage and crushing any hopes for a UCSB comeback.

    Although UC Santa Barbara was able to retaliate with a single goal, the Tritons took it right back for a final score of 11-6.

    The Triton win is the latest in a five-game winning streak, putting the season record up to 17-8 before their final regular season game Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. at UC Irvine. After that, the Tritons will compete in the Western Water Polo Association tournament at University of Redlands on Nov. 21 and Nov. 22, where they will be seeded No. 1.

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