UCSB Opens Season this Weekend at Triton Invitational

Reed Cotterill (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Reed Cotterill (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

The Schedule
Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 at 10:40am
UCSB vs. Concordia Irvine
at San Diego, Calif. – Triton Invitational
All-time record vs. the Eagles: 7-1
Last meeting: W, 11-6 (Oct. 12, 2013)

Saturday/Sunday, Sept. 2-3 TBA
at San Diego, Calif. – Triton Invitational

Weekend Preview
For the fourth consecutive year, the UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team will open the season in San Diego at the annual Triton Invitational. The Gauchos have had success in recent years, going 8-2 at the tournament, and last year racked up 38 goals in wins against Air Force and Pomona-Pitzer. This weekend, the Gauchos will open up against Concordia Irvine, who they last played in 2013 and defeated 11-6. Check out the tournament website for a complete breakdown of the schedule and participating teams. UCSB has won 11 straight season-openers dating back to 2005.

GCC Preseason Poll
In its second season of existence, the Golden Coast Conference returns after a successful inaugural campaign. Announced on Friday, Sep. 1 in the GCC Preseason Coaches' Poll, UCSB has been selected to finish fourth, tied with Pepperdine, as voted on by the league's six head coaches. The Gauchos, who won the regular season GCC title last season received 12 points along with Pepperdine, who won the GCC Tournament title. Pacific was selected to finish first after receiving 22 points, including three first place votes. Long Beach State was a close second with 21 points and two first place votes while UC Irvine was picked third with 18 points and one first place vote. Rounding out the conference selections was San Jose State with five points.

National Rankings
In addition to being selected fourth in the conference poll, the Gauchos were ranked No. 6 in the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) National Preseason Poll. UCSB has the second-highest ranking among GCC schools, falling only behind No. 4 Pacific. Pepperdine and Long Beach State come in at No. 7 and No. 8, respectively, while UC Irvine is ranked 13th. San Jose State is receiving votes in the poll to give the entire GCC representation in the poll.  

Offensive Leaders
The Gauchos return the bulk of its offensive firepower from last season, with All-Americans Reed Cotterill and Shane Hauschild along with All-Conference selections Ivan Gvozdanovic and Borislav Jovanovic back in the fold. Cotterill led the team in scoring with 44 goals while adding 11 assists for a team-high 55 points. Jovanovic tallied 40 goals on the year while Hauschild notched 32 and led the team in assists with 20. Both Hauschild and Jovanovic averaged a team-high 4.2 shots per game and Cotterill recorded a .489 shooting percentage to lead the team.

Defensive Leaders
On the defensive side, Cotterill is the leading returner for the Gauchos with 24 steals in 2016. UCSB will be without goalkeeper Liam Lenihan, who registered 171 saves in 26 games for an average of 6.6 saves per game. Lenihan also led the team with 27 steals. Looking to fill the void will be Justyn Barrios, who is the lone returner to see action in the goal. Barrios tallied 18 saves in five games while making one start. Hauschild returns as the leader in field blocks with six last season.  

2016 Recap
In the first season competing in the Golden Coast Conference, after over 20 years in the MPSF, the Gauchos made their mark, winning the regular season title after going undefeated in conference play for the first time since 1979. After locking up the No. 1 seed for the GCC Postseason Tournament, UCSB fell 11-7 to Pepperdine in the semi-finals and ended the season with a 12-10 loss to Long Beach State in the third-place game. Prior to the conference tournament, the Gauchos had won 10 of its last 11, including seven in-a-row while tearing through conference play. UCSB started the season strong as well, winning six of its first seven games.