After finishing as the No. 7 collegiate program in 2012, the UCSB men’s water polo team is again positioned for another successful fall campaign. The 2013 corps will feature an experienced squad that offsets the graduation of storied goalkeeper Myles Christian with the retention of last season’s top five team scorers.
Last year’s Gauchos stood as high as No. 2 before a late-season slide dropped them to their final rank, a mark which they reached for their fifth consecutive year.
The team will look to two sophomore goalkeepers, Andrew Patterson and Chris Whitelegge, to address the vacancy left by Christian, who finished fourth on the university’s all-time saves list.
Patterson averaged 10.4 saves per game in six appearances for the Gauchos last season, while Whitelegge tallied 10.2 saves per game in 13 game appearances, including four starts.
The UCSB offense will look to senior attackers Matt Gronow and Evan Dellinger to pace the offense; Gronow and Dellinger led the team with 52 goals and 42 goals, respectively, in 2012.
Junior attackers Derek Shoemaker and Eric Van de Mortel, as well as utility Bryce Miller will be counted on to step into larger offensive and defensive roles.
Shoemaker’s 25 goals tied for fourth last season though he was also a defensive presence, with a team-high 23 steals and second-most 10 field blocks in the water.
Miller’s all-around game produced a leading 11 field blocks alongside 25 goals, while Van de Mortel punched in 33 goals to complement a versatile defensive output of 16 steals and seven field blocks.
If the Gauchos are able to replicate their recent successes, the men’s water polo team will be poised to illustrate more highly competitive play in the upcoming season.
A version of this article appeared on page 16 of August 28, 2013’s print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Photo by Magali Gauthier of The Daily Nexus.