Rematches With UC Irvine and USC on Slate for Gauchos at Southern California Tournament

Oct. 12, 2006

The Schedule
Saturday, Oct. 14 -
Southern California Tournament
No. 8 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 11 UC Irvine, 8 a.m.
No. 8 UC Santa Barbara at No. 1 USC, 12 p.m.
at USC McDonald's Swim Stadium

Sunday, Oct. 15 -
Southern California Tournament
at USC McDonald's Swim Stadium and Coliseum Pool

For The Record
The eighth-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team faced No. 1 USC in its Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opener last Friday. The Trojans showed why they are the top team in the country, handing the Gauchos a 15-8 loss.

The following day, UCSB faced UC Davis and Pepperdine at the Long Beach State Mini Tournament. The Aggies edged out the Gauchos 4-3 in the first game of the day, but UCSB rebounded and took a narrow 10-9 win over Pepperdine, the third victory of the season against the Waves.

The Gauchos now hold an overall season record of 13-6 and are 0-1 in the ultra-competitive MPSF. UCSB also received a season-high No. 8 ranking in this week's Collegiate Water Polo Association's Top-20 Poll. The Gauchos had been ranked ninth for the previous three weeks and were ranked tenth for four consecutive weeks at the beginning of the season. This is the highest ranking for UCSB since the 2004 season and the highest since head coach Wolf Wigo took the helm of the program last season.

Up Next
The Gauchos will make the trek to Los Angeles for the second week in a row as they participate in the Southern California Tournament being hosted by USC. All twelve teams in the tournament are currently ranked in the CWPA Top-20 poll and all nine MPSF teams will be in attendance.

First up for UCSB will be an opponent that is becoming a familiar foe this season: No. 11 UC Irvine (5-8). Saturday's early morning match-up marks the third time the two teams have faced-off this season, and they still have yet to play their MPSF conference game. The Anteaters have fallen to UCSB in both of the previous meetings this season; most recently the Gauchos defeated UC Irvine, 10-6 on September 30.

Rounding out the Gauchos' bracket in SoCal is No. 1 USC. As mentioned above, the Gauchos played the Trojans just last weekend in their conference opener, which they lost, 15-8. UCSB will have its work cut out for them against the defending national champion Trojans, who are not only the defending SoCal Tournament champions, but also hold an 11-0 record on the season and are carrying a 12 game win streak at home.

Sunday's tournament play will be determined by Saturday's results.

Red Hot Ross
Junior Ross Sinclair continued to stand-out for the Gauchos last weekend as he posted a total of five goals across three games; he and Ratko Paunovic had a team-leading two goals apiece against USC on Friday and on Saturday, Sinclair and Matt Dale each posted two to lead the Gauchos in their win over Pepperdine.

This season Sinclair has scored in all but one of the Gauchos' 19 games and has had multiple goals in 13 of those matches. Sinclair has also posted at least one goal in the last 15 consecutive games. He leads the team in points with 71 this season (44 goals and 27 assists) and is sixth in the nation for goals scored. He also leads all Gauchos with 36 steals including nine last weekend alone.

Lending a Helping Hand
Leading the Gauchos in assists last weekend was freshman Zsombor Vincze who helped on six of UCSB's 21 goals. Vincze had an impressive four assists in the loss against USC and currently averages 1.33 assists per game this season.

Earning the Advantage
Sophomore Ratko Paunovic led all Gauchos last weekend in earned penalties and ejections drawing a total of nine on the weekend. Paunovic drew four of Pepperdine's 10 ejections on Saturday. Six of the Gaucho goals against the Waves came from penalty shots or man-up power plays.

His Best Against the Best
Junior Rick Wright posted a season-high 13 saves against No. 1 USC last Friday and combined for a total of 22 saves on the weekend after tallying nine blocks against UC Davis the following day.

Wright leads all Gaucho goalkeepers with 121 saves on the season and averages 9.7 saves per game.

On the Horizon
Following the Southern California Tournament, UCSB will return to Campus Pool for two home games. No. 9 St. Francis College (New York) is first up in a recently added game on Oct. 20 at 4 p.m. followed by a game versus No. 5 Stanford at noon on Oct. 22. The match versus the Cardinal will be the second MPSF game of the season for the Gauchos.