No. 5 UCSB Hosts UC Irvine in Final Home Match of 2011

Chase Racich (By Ron Robertson)
Chase Racich (By Ron Robertson)

• Schedule
Saturday November 12, 2011 at 12:00 p.m.
No. 5 UC Santa Barbara (14-9, 2-4 MPSF) vs. No. 5 UC Irvine (14-10, 2-5 MPSF)
at Campus Pool in Santa Barbara, Calif. 

• Match-Up
UCSB and UC Irvine are currently tied for fifth in the latest Collegiate Water Polo Association Top-20 Poll. The Gauchos are currently 2-1 on the season against the Anteaters, with the lone loss coming Sept. 10 in Irvine. UCSB came out much stronger in its next outing, as the Gauchos beat UC Irvine, 11-5, in the seventh-place game at the NorCal Tournament. The teams met again in the SoCal Tournament, this time in the fifth-place game. Behind freshman Eric Van de Mortel's three goals, UCSB won, 9-6.

• A Look at the Standings
After two tough games over the weekend, UCSB is now 2-4 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, good enough for fifth in the conference standings. USC is undefeated in conference games at 6-0, with Cal right behind them at 5-1. Following the game against UC Irvine, the Gauchos have one final conference game remaining against UCLA (17-3, 3-1 MPSF). The final standings will determine seeding for the MPSF Conference Championships to be held Nov. 25-27.

• Polls
The top-four water polo programs in the nation are all from California. UCLA and USC are tied for No. 1 currently, with Cal and Stanford No. 3 and 4, respectively. UCSB and UC Irvine round out the top five.

• Putting Up Numbers
Junior goalkeeper Myles Christian leads the MPSF with 10.49 saves per game after his two stellar performances over the weekend. Irvine's goalkeeper, Michael Bailey, is second with 10.38 saves per game. UCSB, as a team, is second in the conference in total goals with 263, and fifth in goals per game with 11.43.

Sophomore Matt Gronow needs two more goals for 40 on the season and is tied with Jesse Gillespie for the team lead in assists with 20. Twelve Gauchos have 10 or more goals on the season, which is indicative of their team success.

• Senior Farewell
Geng Wang and Brent McCunney, who are both seniors academically, will be playing in their final home contest of their collegiate careers on Saturday. They will be honored in a ceremony prior to first sprint.