No. 1 Gauchos Prepare for MPSF SoCal Invitational at UCLA/LMU

(Photo by Catharyn Hayne)
(Photo by Catharyn Hayne)

The Schedule
Friday, Sept. 27, 2019 at 3:40 p.m.
UCSB vs. San Jose State
All-time record vs. the Spartans: 13-11
Last meeting: October 5, 2018, UCSB def. San Jose State 14-6

Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019 at 9:20 a.m.
UCSB vs. TBD

Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019 at TBD
UCSB vs. TBD

Friday, Sept. 29, 2019 at TBD
UCSB vs. TBD

Possible opponents (in order of seeding): No. 1 Stanford, No. 2 UCLA, No. 4 USC, No. 5 Pacific, No. 6 Pepperdine, No. 7 Cal, No. 8 Long Beach State, No. 9 UC Davis, No. 10 UC Irvine, No. 11 UC San Diego, No. 12 Loyola Marymount, No. 13 Princeton, No. 14 San Jose State, No. 15 Cal Poly Pomona, No. 16 Air Force

Note: UC Santa Barbara enters this weekend as the third seed. The seeding was based on the coach's poll submitted by the 16 participating teams 10 days prior to the start of the tournament.

• Top-tier Competition

The Gauchos will face stiff competition in their bid for an unprecedented third tournament win of the season. 16 teams ranked in this week's Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) coach's poll will be participating in the MPSF SoCal Invitational, hosted by UCLA and Loyola Marymount. Out of the top eight seeds, UCSB has already defeated six of them this season and only has yet to play UCLA and Pacific.

• Atop the Mountain
After starting the season tied for seventh in the CWPA rankings, the Gauchos have made the jump all the way up to No. 1, reaching the pinnacle of the collegiate ranks for the first time in program history. UCSB was nearly unanimously voted as the top team in the country, falling just one point short of the feat. The Gauchos sit five points ahead of second-ranked UCLA.

• Record Setters

UCSB broke the record for the best start to a season in program history, previously set by the 1988 team that went 9-0 to start the season, with its win over Ottawa University of Arizona last week at Campus Pool. Santa Barbara also set a new record for the longest single-season winning streak after having won all 13 of its games on the season. The previous mark was 12 in a row, set by the national championship-winning 1979 team. UCSB has now won its last 15 games dating back to last year.

• A Knack for Knocking Off the Top Dogs

The Gauchos stormed into Avery Aquatic Center last Friday and defeated then-No. 1 Stanford for UCSB's second win over a top-ranked opponent in just five days. Nathan Puentes scored a fourth-quarter hat trick to secure the 15-10 upset over the Cardinal in a match they controlled from the outset, leading 3-1 at the end of the first quarter and 6-2 at halftime.

At the Inland Empire Classic two weeks ago, UCSB took down No. 1 USC for the first time since 1990 with a 13-9 win against the Trojans. After what was a neck-and-neck first half, the Gauchos pulled away in the third quarter after senior utility Ivan Gvozdanovic kicked off a 4-1 run that ultimately secured the victory. Junior attacker Cole Brosnan had five goals in the match and sophomore goalkeeper Danny Roland made 10 blocks with an assist and three steals. After that match, the Gauchos rounded out the tournament with a record-tying 15-4 victory over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps that saw the team equal the best start to a season in program history with a 9-0 mark.

• Opening Their Accounts

Several natural and redshirt freshmen got off the mark two weeks ago at the Inland Empire Classic, scoring the first goals of their collegiate careers. Redshirt freshman drivers Sean Rosenberg and John Rankin earned their debut goals in the Gauchos' 25-5 drubbing of Fresno Pacific, while freshman attacker Mason Chambliss put away his first in the 22-7 win over Occidental.

• Clean Sweep

Junior attacker Leo Yuno earned the Gauchos' third Golden Coast Conference Player of the Week award on Thursday morning. He was selected for the award after his monster four-goal, two-assist performance helped the Gauchos defeat their second No. 1-ranked opponent, the Stanford Cardinal, within the span of five days. The previous day before the Stanford match, Yuno played a crucial role in securing Santa Barbara's victory over then-No. 6 Pepperdine in their exhilarating 16-15 overtime match. His two goals, including the go-ahead goal with 1:47 left in the fourth quarter, and three assists came up big for the Gauchos as they battled to avoid the upset. In the Gauchos' final match of the weekend at Fresno Pacific, he recorded two goals in the team's 21-7 victory over the Sunbirds. In total, he racked up eight goals and five assists over the Gauchos' four games last week, while totaling 18 shots and tacking on a steal.

The Gauchos have earned all three GCC Player of the Week awards so far this season, with redshirt freshman goalkeeper Danny Roland and junior attacker Cole Brosnan taking home the award in weeks one and two, respectively.

• Preseason Poll
UCSB was predicted to finish first in this year's GCC Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Gauchos received two first place votes and 20 points overall, edging out Long Beach State and Pepperdine for the top spot. Long Beach also received two first-place votes, while Pepperdine received one. Pacific finished in a close fourth place with 18 points.

• Gaucho Rewind: 2018 in Review
The Gauchos ended the 2018 campaign with an 18-8 record, including 3-1 in GCC play. After winning eight of its first nine games, the program fell short in games against top-ranked UCLA and USC before rattling off another four wins in a row. After dropping games against Stanford and USC, the Gauchos won six of their last nine games, including a pair of wins against Long Beach State and a 10-6 triumph over Pepperdine at the MPSF Invite.

• Gauchos in the Media

Remembering UCSB's Championship Teams, Santa Barbara Independent https://www.independent.com/2019/09/24/remembering-ucsbs-two-championship-teams/

UC Santa Barbara Aims to Replicate Gauchos' 1979 NCAA Championship Run, Swimming World Magazine https://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/uc-santa-barbara-aims-to-replicate-gauchos-1979-ncaa-championship-run/

Changing of the Water Polo Guard: UC Santa Barbara #1 in CWPA Top 20, Swimming World Magazine https://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/changing-of-the-water-polo-guard-uc-santa-barbara-1-in-cwpa-top-20/

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