The No. 2 UCSB Men’s Water Polo team faces No. 5 Stanford this Saturday in its first Mountain Pacific Sports Federation game of the season.
The Gauchos have already played the Cardinal twice this season, losing 8-7 at Stanford Sept. 15 and then winning 12-9 at home on Sept. 29 in the thrilling quarterfinal game of the SoCal tournament.
Having lost its most recent game against UCSB this season, Stanford will surely be fired up for this one.
“Coach has been saying that these guys are going to want to come after us,since we beat them last time and it’s going to be a fight for the win,”sophomore driver Bryan Snyder said.
Stanford offers a balanced offensive attack that includes freshman driver Bret Bonanni and sophomore utility Alex Bowen. Both players had two goals in their most recent meeting against the Gauchos. In that game, UCSB trailed 6-8 going into the fourth quarter. However, the Gauchos scored six goals in the fourth quarter to eventually wear down the Cardinal and win the game 12-9. “We kept grinding away and made their star players play defense,”junior Ted Zhang said. “As a result, they weren’t as effective on offense.”
Zhang, who is also known to the Gaucho fans as Panda, led UCSB with three goals against the Cardinal. Freshman two-meter Nick Jordan and junior attacker Matt Gronow also contributed two goals for the Gauchos. Senior goalkeeper and team captain Myles Christian continued his consistently stellar play this season with 15 saves for UCSB.
Currently, Christian ranks third in the MPSF in saves per game, averaging 11.45 saves per contest.
Offensively, the Gauchos rank third in team goals with 14 goals per game.
This game marks the beginning of a grueling stretch of the season for the Gauchos. After Stanford, UCSB will play top ranked teams like No. 3 UCLA, No. 4 UCI, No. 8 Pepperdine and No. 1 USC in the coming weeks.
Saturday’s game will begin at 12 p.m. at Campus Pool.