No. 5 UCSB Opens GCC Play at Home vs. No. 16 San Jose State Friday

Boris Jovanovic (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Boris Jovanovic (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

The Schedule
Friday, Oct. 5, 2018 at 4:00 p.m.
No. 5 UCSB (12-4) vs. No. 16 San Jose State (4-4)
at Campus Pool in Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Spartans: 12-11
Last meeting: W, 18-14 in Irvine, Calif. (Nov. 18, 2017)
Live Stats | Video

Last Week Recap
No. 5 UC Santa Barbara was defeated by No. 1 USC 16-2 on Sunday in the Gauchos' final tune-up prior to the start of Golden Coast Conference play. Juniors Jacob Halle and Tommy Fellner both found the scoresheet for the 10th time each this year. Fellner's goal came in the third quarter on one of nine power play on the day for the Gauchos, who matched the Trojans' total of nine drawn exclusions as a team.

Unstoppable Jovanovic Making Waves
It's been a year to remember for Boris Jovanovic, who has put away exactly half his career goal total through just 17 games this year. The senior has scored 50 times this season on just 111 shots, giving him a incredibly efficient .450 shooting percentage despite the high offensive volume. Averaging just under a hat trick per game, the Novi Sad, Serbia native has had 13 multi-goal efforts. He was named the GCC's Player of the Week three straight times to begin the year, becoming the first player in conference history to do so. Jovanovic has also tallied six assists, nine steals and a team-leading 11 drawn exclusions.

GCC Play Begins Against the Spartans
No. 5 UCSB carries the GCC's best overall record into its conference opener this Friday at 4:00 p.m. in Santa Barbara. The Gauchos take on a No. 16 San Jose State team that has gotten out to a 4-4 start to 2018 and owns a 1-2 record against ranked opponents. UCSB has the edge with a 12-11 all-time mark over the Spartans. In 2017, the Gauchos went 2-1 against SJSU, taking a pair of one-goal victories in the regular season before scoring six straight goals to end the game in an 18-14 overtime win in the GCC Championships Fifth-Place game.

Strong Start
At 12-5 overall, UCSB has the highest win percentage (.706) in the conference and twice as many wins as any other GCC team heading into league play. That already surpasses the team's win total from last year, when it went 11-12 overall. It's also the program's best start to a season since 2013, when it began the year 12-2.

Offensive Firepower
Santa Barbara is averaging 13.9 goals per game this year, led by Jovanovic's 50. Ten different Gauchos have reached double-figures in goals, and four have done so in assists. Ivan Gvozdanovic is second on the team with 40 points, tallying 26 goals on a .388 shooting percentage. He is in a three-way tie with Leo Yuno and Jacob Halle for the team-lead in assists, with all three Gauchos sitting at 14. Cole Brosnan (19 goals), Leo Yuno (18) and Sam Nangle (16) round out UCSB's top-five goalscorers.

Defense, Defense, Defense
Goalkeeper Tiago Bonchristiano has been UCSB's defensive stalwart in the cage all season, leading the Gauchos to an 8-4 record as a starter. With a number of huge saves under his belt this season, the sophomore from Brazil has accumulated a team-leading 81 saves on a .497 save percentage.

Leading the Gauchos in the steal department are Ivan Gvozdanovic (25), Tommy Fellner (17), Chad Nelson (15) and Mason McQuet (13). McQuet also leads the way with six field blocks.

GCC Competition
The Gauchos – who were predicted to finish third in this year's GCC Preseason Poll – are a perfect 3-0 against conference foes so far this season, with all three wins coming away from Santa Barbara's Campus Pool. They defeated No. 10 Long Beach State 11-10 on Sept. 2, No. 6 Pacific 13-11 in overtime on Sept. 15, and most recently topped No. 11 Pepperdine 16-14 last Thursday in another overtime thriller. Remarkably, every single GCC team enters this weekend having lost at least two straight games.

National Rankings
After starting the year at No. 10 in the CWPA (Collegiate Water Polo Association) Varsity Polls, UCSB has moved up five spots to No. 5 for the past three weeks. This is the program's highest ranking in two years, since it earned as high as a No. 4 ranking during the 2016 season. In what was Santa Barbara's first season as a member of the GCC, the Gauchos finished 18-8 overall and had a perfect 5-0 mark in conference play.

Crunch Time
Santa Barbara has gone a perfect 2-0 in overtime games this season, with both wins coming against GCC opponents. The Gauchos defeated Pacific 13-11 in a tightly contested battle on Sept. 15, as Ivan Gvozdanovic and Leo Yuno found paydirt during the extra periods. Just five days later, UCSB's Adam Lott would strike first in the opening period of overtime at Pepperdine, breaking a 13-13 tie that gave the Gauchos their first lead since the first quarter. They would go on to win 16-13 win, improving to a perfect 3-0 mark against GCC foes during non-conference play.