Gauchos Poised for 2017 Season

Shane Hauschild (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Shane Hauschild (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The 2017 UC Santa Barbara water polo team is ready to kick off the season at this weekend's Triton Invitational in San Diego where they will likely face two Top-10 teams, including perennial conference foe Long Beach State and defending NCAA Champion Cal.  Although this season's recruits bring many new faces, the Golden Coast Conference (GCC) Preseason Coaches' Poll's 6th ranked Gauchos return many key components of last year's regular season undefeated conference champions, including All-American seniors Reed Cotterill and Shane Hauschild and junior scoring threat Borislav Jovanovic.

Over the offseason many Gauchos trained internationally and competed in a summer league. Under the tutelage of Coach McMillen, goalkeeper Justyn Barrios emerged as a talented shot stopper. The Gauchos will face stiff competition for the GCC crown again this year with an automatic bid the to the NCAA Championship on the line. 

A new transitional motion offensive is anchored by dominant strong center defender core who established over the summer the ability to neutralize opponents primary centers with minimal assistance and more importantly without drawing the exclusions. This in turn facilitates aggressive quick counters by speedy attackers before opponents can set their defenses. 

The added depth of a quick young core allow the coaches the flexibility to work three full rotational lines keeping key starters out of penalty trouble and fresh for the final push, while tiring out opponents who may primarily play only nine or 10 players. Having scoring threats at almost every position creates a nightmare for opposing defenses who can no longer key on a few high scorers. 

The team has worked hard to increase their offensive power play efficiency. Defending champion Cal effectively targeted teams with low power play conversion rates by taking the quick exclusion and capitalizing on strong defensive for their counter scoring threat. 

This balanced attack is a result of both leadership and open communication in the pool and working closely as a group all summer. 

The squad in San Diego will not include key players still returning from participation in the world university games recently completed in Taipei, including incoming Sydney native standout Angus Lambie.  

Anticipate break out seasons from All-GCC Honorable Mention utility player Ivan Gvozdanovic, who trained with the Serbian Junior National Team, as well as fellow sophomore attackers Brannan Haket, Tommy Fellner and senior utility Josh Jordan