The VC men's water polo team kept the match close for a half, but fell off late in their Western State Conference opener against Cuesta Wednesday afternoon at the Ventura Aquatic Center. After heading into halftime tied at 5-5, Ventura (5-9, 0-1) gave up three straight goals to the Cougars in the 13-9 loss. Kyle Goodrich and Tanner Islander each scored three goals to lead the Pirates in the game.
Roger Escalante got the Pirates on the board at the 5:00 mark of the first quarter with an assist by Cole Morter. After Cuesta tied the score, Ryan Reardon assisted Islander's first goal to put VC ahead 2-1 in the closing minute of the quarter. Cuesta tied the score with three seconds on the clock and the teams were deadlocked at the quarter break.
The Cougars took the upper hand in the second period, taking a 4-2 lead, but scores by Islander and Reardon knotted the count, once again. After the Cougars netted a 5-4 advantage at the 1:57 mark of the period, Justin Bouse found the back of the cage on the next possession to pull VC even. The teams went to halftime tied 5-5.
Cuesta took control of the match with three unanswered goals to begin the second half. Goals by Islander and Goodrich closed the gap to one, 8-7, but Ventura would get no closer. The Pirates trailed 9-8 after three quarters.
In the final period, Cuesta pulled away, outscoring VC 4-1 to set the final margin.
Morter finished with a pair of assists, one steal and two drawn exclusions while Nico Chamberlin had an assist with two steals. Glenn Ishida grabbed tow steals with one exclusion drawn. In the cage, Dalton Esrofani recorded six saves.
The Pirates take to the pool again on Saturday Sept. 30 at the Saddleback Tournament.