Gauchos Close Out Regular Season, Host No. 8 Pepperdine on Senior Day Saturday

Tiago Bonchristiano (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Tiago Bonchristiano (Photo by Tony Mastres)

The Schedule
Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018 at 12:00 p.m.
No. 5 UCSB (18-8, 3-1) vs. No. 8 Pepperdine (15-10, 3-1)
a
t Campus Pool in Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Waves: 49-61
Last meeting: W, 10-6 in Stanford, Calif. (Oct. 14, 2018)
Live Stats 
| Video

Gauchos Close Out Road Slate With Win
No. 5 UC Santa Barbara took down No. 11 UC Irvine 14-9 last Friday behind hat tricks from both Boris Jovanovic and Ivan Gvozdanovic. Jovanovic increased his career goal total to 177, moving him past Matt Gronow (176 goals, 2010-13) for No. 5 all-time at UCSB. After starting the game down 0-2 early in the first quarter, the Gaucho defense would stiffen up the rest of the way, led by 10 saves by goalkeeper Tiago Bonchristiano. Jacob Halle and Nathan Puentes both chipped in with two goals apiece, as the Gauchos claimed their second straight win.

Senior Day Finale
On Saturday at 12:00 p.m., the Gauchos are set to face No. 8 Pepperdine for the third time this year, hosting the Waves in the final game of the regular season. The first two meetings went UCSB's way by a three-goal average margin of victory, earning a 16-14 win in Malibu in September and a 10-6 victory in mid-October at the MPSF Invite. Prior to Saturday's game, Boris Jovanovic – the team's lone senior this year – will be honored as part of a pregame Senior Day ceremony.

On Friday at 7:00 p.m., No. 6 UCSB travels to face No. 11 UC Irvine in their lone match-up this season. Last year, the two sides met four times, with the Anteaters coming away victorious in the last three meetings. UCI owns a 63-61 edge in the all-time series.

Historic Year for Jovanovic
An offensive force since the first weekend of his senior season, driver Boris Jovanovic has racked up a GCC-leading 77 goals this year on a .430 shooting percentage, averaging just under a hat trick per game (2.96 G/gm). Having scored at least three goals in five straight outings entering Saturday, he is on pace to join Milos Golic (82 goals, 2008) as the program's only 80-goal scorers since 1991. The Serbian native has had 20 multi-goal efforts this year and recently cracked the program's all-time top-five for career goals. He 11was 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 10 assists, 13 steals and team-leading marks of 87 points and 22 drawn exclusions.

Year to Remember
At 18-8 overall, UCSB's .692 win percentage is tied for its highest since 1991. A win in the Gauchos' season-finale would break that tie. Santa Barbara can end the regular season with the top conference record as well, currently tied with Pepperdine and No. 7 Pacific at 3-1 in official GCC contests. This marks the sixth time in the last eight years that the Gauchos have had at least 16 wins.

Offensive Firepower
Santa Barbara is averaging just over 13 goals per game this year, led by Jovanovic's 77. 12 different Gauchos have reached double-figures in goals, and five have done so in assists. Ivan Gvozdanovic is second on the team with 73 points, tallying 48 goals on a .381 shooting percentage. His 25 assists are tied for No. 4 in the conference. During GCC play, Gvozdanovic has a team-high 16 points (9 goals, 7 assists), slightly beating out Jovanovic (15 points). Cole Brosnan (29), Leo Yuno (27) and Sam Nangle (17) 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 a 14-7 record as a starter. The Brazilian native has accumulated 149 saves – good for a top-four spot among GCC goalkeepers – on a .558 save percentage.

In the steals department, Gvozdanovic has a team-leading 37, good for second in the conference. He is followed by Tommy Fellner (23), Chad Nelson (16) and Mason McQuet (16). McQuet and Gvozdanovic also lead the way with seven field blocks.

GCC Competition
The Gauchos – who were predicted to finish third in this year's GCC Preseason Poll – are a near-perfect 8-1 against conference foes so far this season, with six of the wins coming away from Santa Barbara's Campus Pool. Their only GCC defeat came in a 12-11 loss to Pacific on Oct. 20, ending a run of seven straight wins against GCC foes going back to last season.

National Rankings
After starting the year at No. 10 in the CWPA (Collegiate Water Polo Association) Varsity Polls, UCSB has spent much of the season with its current No. 5 ranking. It is the program's highest ranking in two years, since it earned as high as a No. 4 ranking during the 2016 season. That year, 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.