Dec. 6, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Three members of the UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team were named to All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation teams it was announced recently by the conference. Junior driver Ross Sinclair earned second team accolades while junior goalie Rick Wright and freshman utility player Zsombor Vincze picked up honorable mention nods.
Sinclair, who earned MPSF Player of the Week and Golden1/ucsbgauchos.com Student-Athlete of the Week honors earlier in the season, received his first ever All-MPSF nod this season with his placement on the conference's second team. The Newport Beach, Calif. native led UCSB in goals (64), assists (48), shots (166), steals (52) and field blocks (14) this season. He scored in 29 of the Gauchos' 35 games including 19 multi-goal games and posted a streak of 16 games with at least one goal (from Sept. 9 thru Oct. 10). In addition to his all-conference accolades, Sinclair was named UC Santa Barbara's Offensive Most Valuable Player.
Wright, the starting Gaucho goalkeeper for the past two seasons, earned his first Honorable Mention All-MPSF nod this season. The San Diego, Calif. native started 29 games for the Gauchos this season, playing 23.5 total games. He averaged 11.1 saves per game, ranking first in the conference, and a 9.1 goals against average. Wright tallied double-digit saves in 15 games this season including a career-high 19 blocks in an overtime loss to No. 3 UCLA November 12. Wright, who ranked second on the team in steals with 25, was also awarded UCSB's Defensive Most Valuable Player award.
Freshman All-MPSF Honorable Mention, Vincze, played in 25 of the Gauchos' 35 matches this season and recorded 30 goals, the fourth highest total on the team, for a goals per game average of 1.2. The native of Szeged, Hungary posted seven multi-goal games, including three hat tricks and scored at least one goal in each of the last six matches of the season. In addition to his goal scoring, Vincze was fourth on the team for assists (23), third for steals (20) and third for earned ejections and penalties (30). In addition to his All-MPSF accolades, Vincze was awarded the Erick P. Prosser Endowed Scholarship named for the former Gaucho polo player.
Sophomore Travis Watts was awarded with the second annual Roger Tobin Memorial Scholarship, which is given to the member of the team who best exemplifies hard work and sportsmanship. Watts was integral to the Gauchos' success this season as he was second on the team for points (39 goals, 35 assists). The sophomore driver posted nine multi-goal games on the season including two goals against No. 4 Stanford in a narrow sudden-victory overtime loss.
Rounding out the list of end of the year honorees is freshman driver Stefan Partelow who received the McCormick Memorial Leadership Award, which honors the UC Santa Barbara water polo player who possesses the qualities of loyalty, leadership, self-sacrifice and courage amongst one's peers. Partelow played in all but one game this season, scoring 18 goals for the Gauchos.
Last season, head coach Wolf Wigo's first year at the helm of the program, the Gauchos failed to qualify for the MPSF tournament after posting a 0-8 mark in conference and ended the season ranked No. 14 nationally. UCSB showed what a difference a year makes this season as they posted a 3-5 overall conference mark - the best MPSF record for the team since the 1994 season - taking fifth in the MPSF during the regular season and followed up with a fifth place finish at the conference tournament in Irvine, Calif. on Nov. 26.
Overall, the Gauchos posted a 21-14 record on the season, marking the first season since 1990 that they finished with 20 or more wins and only the seventh time in program history that feat has been achieved. In the final Collegiate Water Polo Association National Coaches Poll, UCSB was ranked sixth overall amongst Division I teams, the best ranking since the 1994 season when it also finished sixth. Also notable, UC Santa Barbara will not graduate any seniors from the 2006 team.