It was a happy Halloween for the No. 3 Trojans after a 13-9 win Saturday over No. 7 UCSB.
It was a strong start for USC with a skip shot into goal by freshman utility player Joshua Waldoch. The Gauchos however, fired back, tying the game 1-1. USC graduate 2-meter Wyatt Barker had a big play during a six-on-five, making the score 3-1. The Trojans continued their barrage of shots on the Gauchos to maintain the upper-hand, ending the first quarter 5-2.
“Any win this late in the season, it’s crucial. It’s really important, you know, for morale, for guys to keep developing chemistry, and to have, you know, this type of performance,” head coach Marko Pintaric said.
The Trojans kept their foot on the gas with sophomore two-meter man Max Miller scoring at set after being defended by both goalie and guard. UCSB would hammer away shots near the end of the second, still trailing 7-5. The Gauchos would edge closer to the Trojans, but never were able to tie the game up.
During the third, UCSB would make its move with a shot that left them trailing 7-6. However, the Trojans responded with goals by Miller and junior driver Marcus Longton.
Senior goalie Nic Porter was a quintessential part of the game with ten saves. This puts him into a tie at No. 6 all-time at USC in career saves (614).
Porter had strong words in regards to the team keeping faith in times of high pressure.
“I think it comes down to two things, I think it comes down to having faith in our system, obviously, like we had a way to prepare for this one game. All week was just about focusing on how we could neutralize their offensive threats and how we could capitalize on any weaknesses that they have, in our offense, their defense,” Porter said.
“The second thing would be our experience, we’re really like a senior base roster. I think having been in these positions for some of us in our fourth year now, when it gets to those moments like that, it’s on our seniors to kind of calm the boys down, remind them to stick to our system. Have faith in the system.”
In the fourth period, the team thrived; the men in cardinal and gold would come back with four successful shots from junior driver Hannes Daube, junior driver Ashworth Molthen, and two shots from senior driver Jacob Mercep. After their goals, Daube and Mercep both had hat tricks. Although UCSB put up a good fight, it ultimately was no match for this powerhouse team, ending the game 13-9.
“Because next matchup against UCLA, yeah, we can expect nothing less than intensity. High pressure for both teams and we’re looking forward to a great, great day” said Pintaric.
The team looks ahead to its big game against cross-town rival UCLA at 1 p.m., Nov. 6 at home.