The No. 4 UC Santa Barbara men’s water polo team has a busy week coming up as they travel to play No. 7 Long Beach State at 6 p.m. on Saturday before turning around to host No. 8 Cal at noon at Campus Pool the next day.
Entering Saturday’s contest, UCSB is coming off of a tough home loss at the hands of the University of the Pacific. The game was extremely tight, going back and forth throughout, but Pacific ultimately found the back of the net in the closing seconds to steal a victory.
The Gauchos are now in fifth place in the Golden Coast Conference after dropping the season opener, and currently own a 0-1 conference, 15-5 overall record. Long Beach State is two spots above them in the standings and claims a 1-0 conference, 12-8 overall record.
UCSB is looking to get back on track Saturday and steal a road win of their own in a hostile environment.
Leo Yuno has been a strong bright spot this year for this very successful UCSB team. In his first year starting, Yuno has been performing at a very high level, scoring consistently and playing solid defense for the Gauchos. He even managed to secure a Gold Coast Conference Player of the Week award a few weeks back for his outstanding play.
If UCSB wants to get back to their winning ways however, they will need Yuno and the entire Gaucho roster to step up. Head coach Wolf Wigo stressed after the last loss that the key for this team will be putting their mark on games early and not allowing themselves to get caught up in trying to play the other team’s game. The core identity of this squad is defense and if the Gauchos continue to get into high-scoring shootouts with their opponents, they will have a hard time climbing up the conference rankings.
To hopefully get some more insight on how this win was going to come to fruition, I sat down with junior attacker Leo Yuno to ask him a few questions:
Jesse Morrison, Daily Nexus: How do you and the team plan to get back on track this weekend?
Leo Yuno: We have to continue to work hard at practice every day. Got to continue to learn and improve as a team. And we have to man up and play good one-on-one defense.
JM: Seems like you and the guys on the team really get along well with one another, what do you guys do together in your free time?”
LY: Aside from class and practice, we eat together a lot in the dining commons and we try and get surf sessions in when we can.
JM: So ultimately, where do you think this team ends up?
LY: We want to go to NCAAs, make a serious run for it and hopefully win it. We want to bring that ring home.
As always, if you can’t travel this Saturday to support your Gauchos, tune in to theFosh.net for live updates and stats. Also, make sure to pack the pool this Sunday for the game versus Cal to give the team a much-needed boost.