The No. 8 UCSB men’s water polo team is in the midst of a seven-game losing streak and will look to end it this weekend with a home match against No. 10 Pepperdine on Saturday.
The Gauchos hold a 9-11 record and are 0-6 in conference play, while Pepperdine enters the match with a 9-11 record and is 1-5 in conference play.
Santa Barbara enters Saturday’s match optimistic, despite not having won since Oct. 11 — the last time UCSB played Pepperdine.
“Ball control is going to be huge. They like to counterattack and play a transition game,” junior goalie Chris Whitelegge said. “We are going to need all seven men back on defense for every play.”
The last time these two teams met in the first round of the SoCal Tournament, the Gauchos took the win in an 11-7 match. One month prior, Santa Barbara defeated Pepperdine 12-6 on the road. The Waves will surely want to bring their best effort in order to keep the Gauchos from taking their third straight match against them this season.
Freshman attacker Shane Hauschild leads the Gauchos with 26 goals and 42 points after scoring four goals for Santa Barbara in two matches this past weekend. Senior utility Brendan McElroy leads the team with 23 assists and is second on the team with 39 points. Whitelegge has been a defensive stalwart in goal with 184 saves, averaging 9.7 saves per game.
Pepperdine won its last match against UC Irvine 11-9 this past Saturday. Senior attacker Jake Schrimpf and junior attacker Wesley Sherburne led the team with three goals each while junior utility Luke Hewko added two goals. Freshman goalie Zack Rhodes played a fantastic game in front of the cage with 16 saves.
Hewko leads the team with 45 goals in 20 matches, with Sherburne and Schrimpf following with 35 and 32 goals, respectively. Schrimpf also leads the team with 20 assists.
“These guys are our rivals, another beach town, and it’s gonna be a good match,” junior utility Chase Racich said.
UCSB will be looking for the victory in a match against a team it has proven it can beat on two separate occasions. After Pepperdine, the Gauchos only have one more match before the end of season MPSF tournament. This match is important to make sure they do not enter the tournament as the bottom seed, where they would have to take on one of the top seeds in their first match.
The Gauchos and the Waves square off at noon on Saturday at Campus Pool.
A version of this article appeared on page 9 of Thursday, November 6, 2014th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.