Home-cooked perfection will be put to the test when the #7 UCSB men’s water polo team welcomes #10 Long Beach State and #2 Stanford into the friendly confines of Campus Pool this weekend. The Gauchos (13-8 overall, 2-2 in conference) are 4-0 at home this year and currently occupies fifth place in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, a conference that houses nine of the nation’s Top-25 teams, including the country’s top four.
Santa Barbara will begin the weekend with a Long Beach State Squad (11-13, 0-4) that is tied for last in the MPSF. Saturday’s match marks the first time these two teams have met since the Gauchos took a narrow 7-6 decision at Long Beach last year. The 49er’s enter the weekend coming off a nail-biting 8-7 loss to nonconference foe Pepperdine at home, signifying the team’s fifth loss in their last seven games. Long Beach is led offensively by junior two-meter Jeff Greenwood who has posted the majority of his 40 goals this season from point blank range. Greenwood ranks tenth in total goals in the MPSF, and has posted performances of four goals twice this season. Senior two-meter defender Jake Kinne ranks second on the team in goals with 31, and has 13 muti-goal performances so far. Defensively, junior Derek Wiebe-Bailey has tended the net for 23 games this year, giving up an average of 9.22 goals per game, a figure that ranks next to last in the conference.
“Long Beach is 0-4 in the conference, they’re not really doing too well,” said junior driver Sean Castillo. “We’re looking to come out and be dominant right out of the gate. We want to show that even though our rankings differ only by a few spots, we’re a much stronger, balanced team than they are. We feel pretty confident about that game, but we’re not going to look past them.”
After Long Beach, UCSB looks to repeat history against the Stanford Cardinal (20-2, 4-0), a team the Gauchos upset in Palo Alto last season 9-7 for the first time since 1985. Sanford has yet to lose a conference match this year, their two losses coming at the hands of #1 USC in the Northern and Southern California Tournaments. Sunday’s match, while important for MPSF tournament seeding, might have a little more meaning for Head Coach Wolf Wigo as his brothers Drac and Janson Wigo will be spearheading the Cardinal attack. The junior utilities have combined for 82 goals this year, placing them both individually in the MPSF top-ten in goals scored. The brothers Wigo have averaged 1.96 and 1.77 goals per game respectively. Defensively, junior Jimmie Sandman and sophomore Brian Pingree have split time in the net, allowing only 4.22 and 2.50 goals per game, numbers good enough for the top two spots in the conference.
“Stanford is a really good team at 4-0, second in conference right now,” said Castillo, “But it was the same kind of situation last year and we went up there and beat them in front of hundreds of their fans at their huge stadium. This time we’re in front of our own fans at our pool, so it’s definitely not out of our reach.”
With all the offensive accolades both Long Beach and Stanford bring to Campus Pool, it seems fitting that UCSB should be the team with the biggest weapon. Sophomore utility Milos Golic leads the MPSF with 63 goals and a 3.15 average, is in the midst of a 25-game scoring streak dating back to 2007, has 17 multi-goal performances this year including a seven-goal explosion against #9 UC Irvine, and leads his team in both assists and steals with 16 and 14 respectively. While at times this year Golic may not have needed it, he has had help offensively. Senior Miles Price, who has 29 goals, broke somewhat of a scoring slump last weekend against #4 Cal and #19 Pacific with five goals, equaling his total for the previous seven games. Including Golic and Price, seven different Gauchos have double digit goal totals this year. Defensively, junior Michael Robinson and sophmore Frasier Bunn have successfully shared the net this year. Robinson has averaged 9.6 saves per game, while Bunn averages 10.5, good enough for the third and second spots in the MPSF.
UCSB begins their weekend against Long Beach State at 12 p.m. on Saturday, and will take on Stanford the following day, same time. The Gauchos will close out the regular season at home next weekend with conference matches against #3 UCLA and #5 Pepperdine at Campus Pool. As always, admission is free.
I Like Home Pool And i love swimming.