UCSB, which was coming off a narrow 6-5 loss to No. 1 Stanford on Sunday, improves to 12-6 on the year, while UCSD drops to 11-5. The Tritons have lost three straight over a span of five days, falling to No. 2 Cal (18-8) on Sunday and No. 12 Long Beach State (9-8) on Wednesday before Friday's setback.
"Although our last three games have been losses to MPSF teams, we still may be turning a corner here," head coach Denny Harper said. "We stepped up and competed tonight against a Santa Barbara team that gave No. 1 Stanford all it could handle in its last game. I was happy with the overall contributions everyone made tonight."
Sophomore Josh Stiling had a great performance for the Tritons, finishing with three goals to pace the home team. Senior Graham Saber added two scores and John Butler, Brian Donohoe and Lukas Syka chipped in with one goal apiece.
The Gauchos took an early 2-0 lead on first quarter goals from Derek Shoemaker and Racich before Stiling's first goal of the evening made it 2-1 to end the opening quarter. UCSB then outscored UCSD by the same margin in the second stanza to take a 4-2 lead at the half.
The Tritons struck first in the third quarter as a score from Syka brought UCSD to within 4-3, but Matt Johnson and Derek Shoemaker answered with back-to-back goals to give UCSB a three-goal advantage with 4:55 remaining in the period. Trailing 7-4 three minutes later, Stiling and Butler scored on consecutive possessions to bring the Tritons within one with 1:20 left in the quarter.
Senior goalkeeper David Morton would follow with a huge save of a Gaucho penalty shot to keep the score at 7-6 heading into the final frame.
The two teams traded the first two goals of the fourth quarter, with Racich giving UCSB an 8-6 edge and Stiling answering on a nice cross-pool pass from William Brown to cut it to 8-7 with 3:27 left to play. Racich came through for the Gauchos once more a minute and a half later, giving UCSB a 9-7 lead with 1:53 remaining.
Saber followed with a monster goal out of a UCSD timeout to make it 9-8 with 32 seconds left, but it was too little, too late as UCSB was able to run the clock all the way down on its final possession. With Morton out of the cage on the final play, Brian Shoemaker scored on the empty net to cap off the victory for the Gauchos.
Morton finished with 13 saves in goal for the Tritons, while Jay Lovero made five stops for UCSB.
UCSD will now look to bounce back against Western Water Polo Association rival Loyola Marymount next Friday in Los Angeles. The Tritons have gone 1-2 in three games against the Lions this season, dropping two at Canyonview before posting a 9-5 win at the SoCal Tournament in Long Beach on October 2.