2011 Water Polo Season Opens Saturday

Matt Gronow (By Miranda Chrislock)
Matt Gronow (By Miranda Chrislock)

• The Schedule
UCLA Invitational at Spieker Aquatics Center
UCSB vs. La Verne, 11:45 a.m.
UCSB vs. Pepperdine, 1 p.m. (Exhibition)
UCSB vs. Pomona-Pitzer, 3:30 p.m.
UCSB vs. UCLA, 4:45 p.m. (Exhibition)

For latest score updates, follow UCLAwaterpolo on Twitter. 

• The Opening Sprint
The seventh-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team will open its 2011 season this Saturday at the UCLA Invitational, a round robin tournament being held at the Bruins' Spieker Aquatics Center. The Gauchos will play a pair of regular season contests against La Verne and Pomona Pitzer while also mixing in a pair of exhibition games against No. 9 Pepperdine and No. 3 UCLA.

• The Who's Who
UCSB fields a relatively young roster this season that features just eight returning letterwinners from the 2010 campaign and no seniors. The additions to the active roster include six redshirt freshmen, five true freshmen and one junior transfer. In all, UCSB will have five juniors, six sophomores and a whopping 11 freshmen on the squad. 

• Preseason Predictions
The Gauchos have been ranked seventh in the Collegiate Water Polo Association's Preseason National Poll after finishing the 2010 campaign ranked sixth nationally. In a preseason poll of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation coaches, the Gauchos were predicted to finish eighth in the extremely competitive conference.

• The Wigo File
A three-time Olympian and former captain of the USA Water Polo Men's National Team, Wolf Wigo is now in his seventh season as the head coach at UC Santa Barbara. During his tenure with the Gauchos, Wigo has led UCSB to a 95-84 record. During the past five seasons, Wigo has led the Gauchos to consecutive top-seven year-end national rankings. Wigo has also coached four players to All-American honors, including four-time All-American, Milos Golic.

• The Returners
Key returners for the Gauchos this season will be juniors Brian Shoemaker and Myles Christian and sophomores Matt Gronow and Lazar Komadinic. Shoemaker is the top returning scorer from last season after ranking second on the team with 22 goals. Christian made 18 appearances in the goal and averaged 12 saves per game. Gronow appeared in all 24 games last year and was fourth on the team with his 18 goals. Komadinic, meanwhile, contributed 15 goals and was second on the squad with 20 steals. 

• What Lies Ahead
Following this weekend's tournament, the Gauchos will remain on the road for the next two weeks as they play at UC Irvine (Sept. 10) before taking on the Inland Empire Tournament (Sept. 11) and the Northern California Tournament (Sept. 17-18). The Gauchos will open at home on Sept. 24 with a doubleheader featuring games against Concordia and Pomona-Pitzer. For the complete 2011 schedule, click here

GKids is the official kids club of UCSB Athletics available to kids in eighth grade or younger. Members receive the official 2011-12 GKids t-shirt, Olé's Coloring Book and Guide for Being a Gaucho, entry into every regular season soccer, basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball game, and much more! To sign up today, click here