The No. 6 UCSB men’s water polo sits at 11-2 on the season, and will compete in the SoCal Tournament this weekend hosted by UC Irvine. The Gauchos will begin their tournament with a matchup against No. 11 Concordia, whom UCSB defeated 12-7 on Sept. 27.
Tournament play begins Saturday and concludes Sunday. It will be the final tournament before the set schedule begins, and the last tournament until the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Championships.
“We played a very close game against Concordia last time,” junior Derek Shoemaker said. “We had last weekend off from games which gave us two weeks of intense training to prepare for this weekend.”
Concordia currently sits at an overall record of 10-4.
“They might be ranked below us, but they have some really talented shooters,” Shoemaker said. “We’re going to need our center defenders to push out and really contain their center forwards in order to go out and play higher on their better shooters.”
Shoemaker has been having a great offensive season, with 28 goals and 9 assists on the season. Only senior Matt Gronow has more points on the year, with 30 goals and 17 assists.
“Besides worrying about their shooters, we just have to focus and play our game,” Shoemaker said. “The score will take care of itself.”
In the last matchup between UCSB and Concordia, UCSB was victorious in large part thanks to junior attacker Erik Van de Mortel, who tallied four goals on the outing. On the other side of the pool, junior attacker Stefano Ragosa led the attack for the Eagles with three goals.
If UCSB defeats Concordia, they face a potential matchup with the number three team in the nation, Pacific. Santa Clara is also in the same bracket as UCSB.
“You always are aware of the teams in front of you, especially when there’s a likely matchup soon,” Shoemaker said. “However, all of our focus in on game one against Concordia who could definitely play a tough game with us if we aren’t mentally prepared.”
The tournament is composed of 16 teams, all nine MPSF teams and includes the top 10 teams in the nation, including No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 USC, No. 3 Pacific, No. 4 Stanford and No. 5 California.
The game begins at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of October 10th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Magali Gauthier of the Daily Nexus