No. 6 UCSB is Back in Action This Weekend at NorCal Invite

No. 6 UCSB is Back in Action This Weekend at NorCal Invite

Sept. 18, 2009

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• The Schedule
Saturday, September 19, 2009 at Northern California Invitational

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (3-1) vs. Air Force Falcons (4-4), 12 pm
UCSB vs. Cal (5-0) or Santa Clara (5-0), 4 or 5:20 pm
at Stanford's Avery Pool

Sunday, September 20, 2009 at Northern California Invitational
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. TBD
at Stanford's Avery or Belardi Pool

• Gauchos Head to Northern California Invitational
After a week off from games, the sixth-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team is back in action this week as it heads to the Northern California Invitational, which is being hosted by Stanford this season at the Cardinal's Belardi and Avery Pools. The Gauchos will open the tournament with a game against No. 14 Air Force. Third-ranked Cal and No. 12 Santa Clara are also in UCSB's bracket.

• The Best of the Best
This weekend's tournament will feature a total of 16 teams split into four-team brackets. Of the 16 teams participating, 15 are ranked in the Collegiate Water Polo Association's Top-20 poll and the top-12 teams will all be in attendance.

• For the Record
The Gauchos enter this weekend with a 3-1 overall record. UCSB opened the 2009 season two weeks ago at the UC San Diego Triton Invitational. After defeating UC San Diego, Cal Lutheran and Pepperdine, the Gauchos fell to top-ranked USC in the tournament's championship game, 15-5.

• Flying With the Falcons
Air Force enters this weekend with a 4-4 record. Last weekend, the Falcons split a pair of doubleheaders with Cal Baptist and St. Francis to go 2-2 at their own East Meets West Tournament. Junior Bobby Geiger leads the team with 16 goals this season. The last time the two teams met was at last season's NorCal Invitational. The Gauchos defeated the Falcons, 10-9 in sudden victory overtime. It was the first of five sudden victory games for UCSB in 2008.

• Battling the Bay
One thing is guaranteed about UCSB's second-round opponent this Saturday - it will be a Bay Area program. The Gauchos will take on either No. 3 Cal or No. 12 Santa Clara, depending on the result of Saturday's first round game. The Bears are currently undefeated, having posted a 5-0 record so far this season. Cal has won each of its games this season by eight or more goals. Cory Nasoff and Zach White, who have each tallied 13 goals, pace the team. As for Santa Clara, the Broncos also enter the weekend with a 5-0 record. Santa Clara was perfect at the season-opening Princeton Tournament and aside from a 7-6 victory over the host Tigers, the Broncos have blown out their opposition this season by an average margin of 10.25 goals. Current Western Water Polo Association Player of the Week, Jack Wall, leads the squad with 15 goals.

• Worth the Wait
After redshirting the 2008 season, freshman Brian Shoemaker made his debut as a Gaucho two weeks ago. During his opening weekend in the blue and gold, the utility player was second on the team with seven goals and was the only player to score in all four games, to open his collegiate career with a scoring streak. He was tied as the team leader with a hat trick in the win over UC San Diego and also led the team with a pair of goals in the loss to USC. In addition to his goals, he tallied an assist and earned a total of six penalties or ejections.

• In The Center of It All
Sophomore two-meter player Noah Smith currently leads the Gauchos in goals (8) and earned penalties or ejections (9). He opened the year with a hat trick against UCSD and then accounted for half of the Gauchos' goals in their 8-7 victory over Pepperdine.

• All About the All-American
Junior Milos Golic - who earned First Team All-American honors in 2008 - is third on the squad with six goals. He tied Shoemaker with a team-leading two goals in the loss to USC and notched his first hat trick of the season in the 18-2 victory over Cal Lutheran. He is also tied second with Shoemaker with six earned penalties or ejections.

• They Were Merely Freshmen
Three true freshmen traveled to UCSD two weeks ago: Teddy Zhang, Chris Dyer and Evan Dellinger. Each tallied their first collegiate goals over the weekend and Dellinger led the way with four total goals, including one against top-ranked USC.

• Keeping Up with the Keeper
Junior Fraser Bunn has gotten the starting nod in goal for the Gauchos in three of their four games. He is averaging 8.3 saves per game with an 11.3 goals against average. He tallied a season-high 10 saves in the win over UCSD in the tourney opener.

• The Wigo Watch
A three-time Olympian and former captain of the USA Water Polo Men's National Team, Wolf Wigo is now in his fifth season as the head coach at UC Santa Barabra. During his tenure with the Gauchos, Wigo has led UCSB to a 73-57 record, including three consecutive winning seasons. The Gauchos have finished the past three seasons ranked sixth nationally and last year, UCSB finished fifth in the always-competitive Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Wigo has led three players to All-American honors including Milos Golic, who was the first UCSB first team honoree in over 20 years.

• Hometown Heroes
The Gauchos will make their 2009 debut at Campus Pool on Oct. 3 when they host an Alumni game at 2 p.m. The weekend will not just serve as Alumni weekend, but also the 30th Anniversary celebration of the Gauchos' 1979 NCAA Championship title, the first Division I title in UCSB history.

• GKids
UCSB Athletics is proud to introduce GKids - its new official kids club! GKids members will receive a free GKids t-shirt, free admittance to tons of Gaucho games, opportunities to be ball boys and girls at games, a special birthday greeting from Olie (the new GKids mascot) and much, much more! For more information on GKids, or to become a member, please click here.