Boris Jovanovic searches for a pass. Christina DeMarzo/Daily Nexus

Another weekend full of action is in store for the men’s water polo team as a doubleheader is in the cards.
First, the Gauchos return to Golden Coast Conference play this Saturday with a road matchup against third-place Pacific. Then on Sunday, UCSB will travel up to familiar foe Cal for their third meeting this year.

UCSB will look to build upon its dominance in October, as the team is currently 4-1 in this month alone. This season, the Gauchos hold a 16-6 overall record with all their losses coming only from teams who are ranked higher than them in the NCAA standings.

This next pair of matches will be a great indicator for how far exactly the team has progressed and whether or not they’ve got what it takes to make that leap to join the top three nationally ranked programs.
The Pacific Tigers are teetering just above a .500 as they find themselves at an overall of 8-7 for the year. In October, they are 3-2 and are most recently coming off a split showing of 2-2 after last weekend’s MPSF tournament.

This will be the second time Pacific and UCSB have encountered each other this season, with the last confrontation ending in a closely fought 13-11 Gaucho victory. Historically, the Gauchos are 74-29 when facing Pacific. Dependent on how Pepperdine fares against UC Irvine, this Gauchos and Tigers clash will decide who will be sitting in first place in the GCC standings. UCSB, Pacific and Pepperdine are currently in a three-team tie for the top GCC spot after each side won its opening conference match.

As for the Cal Bears, this non-conference matchup will feature just as much intensity, as the Gauchos will have another rematch opportunity in order to finally best their Northern opponents. The Golden Bears are at an impressive 14-3 overall this year and are coming off back-to-back losses against No. 2 UCLA and No. 3 USC. Cal is also undefeated at home, whereas UCSB is 14-4 when on the road or at a neutral venue.

On the season, UCSB is 0-2 against Cal and will be searching for the upset win. Not much is different historically either as Cal has an imposing all-time series lead of 68-8, with UCSB’s last series victory occurring all the way back in 2004.
Snagging victories in both games of this doubleheader will give the Gauchos all the momentum to close out their conference strong, as the NCAA Tournament is also set for next month. Both opponents were also present at the most recent MPSF Invitational.

Pacific ended in seventh-place and Cal took the bronze, as compared to UCSB’s fifth-place finish. Through the tournament, the Gauchos are undefeated against Golden Coast Conference opponents. Saturday’s conference match against Pacific is set to take place away from home at 1 p.m. Sunday’s exhibition game versus Cal will also be on the road, taking place in Berkeley at 12 p.m.

A version of this story appeared on pg. 8 of the Oct. 18 print edition of the Daily Nexus.