SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – No. 6 Pepperdine claimed a huge road win at No. 3 UC Santa Barbara in MPSF action Saturday at the UCSB Campus Pool. The Waves (11-7, 3-2 MPSF) concluded their four-game road trip at 3-1 and avenged an earlier loss to the Gauchos (15-6, 1-3 MPSF) in the process.
Pepperdine bounced back from an early deficit to pull off its third top-five victory in three weeks. The Waves trailed 3-1 at the end of the first period before surging with five goals in the second, fueled by a hat trick in the frame by Stephen Loomis. Loomis finished with four goals to go along with a pair of steals.
“Loomis really stepped up for us today and he has been really consistent all year,” Pepperdine interim co-head coach Willo Rodriguez said. “I think Loomis went three-for-three in the second quarter and made two on the power play. He also had one of the best goals we’ve had all season.”
After taking a 6-5 advantage into the intermission, Pepperdine stepped up defensively in the third, holding the Gauchos scoreless while tallying three goals for a 9-5 lead. The Waves held the Gauchos scoreless for nearly 12 minutes.
“Defensively we were led once again by Bence in the cage,” Rodriguez said. “We were able to stop UCSB’s power play opportunities and that was a big reason why we were able to pick up a win there. Our third and fourth quarters were really, really strong. They didn’t have an answer for our defense.”
Spencer Hamby and Nick Cooper each scored goals in the third period. Marko Madaras and Matthew DeTrane recorded a pair of goals for Pepperdine in the contest. Madaras added a team-high three assists to go along with a steal, while Cooper recorded two steals.
Goalkeeper Bence Valics collected 13 saves, including seven in the second half and four in the shutout third period.
With three games remaining, Pepperdine sits third in the MPSF standings and is in a solid position for the conference tournament. Winning three of their last four on the road has buoyed the team’s confidence.
“These are conference games and it solidifies our spot in the standings,” Rodriguez said. “We haven’t been in the top three in the league since 2007-08. It helps give us the seed we want for the tournament Thanksgiving weekend.”