Leonard Paulasa / The Daily Nexus

This Saturday, Nov. 16, the No. 5 UCSB men’s water polo team caps off their regular season schedule with a matchup against No. 6 Pepperdine. These two water polo powerhouses have a history of playing close, physical games with one another, and I expect Saturday to be no exception. Both of these teams want to enter the upcoming Golden Coast Conference (GCC) tournament with a high seed and unbreakable momentum. Therefore, Saturday’s contest should be a good one. 

The Gauchos currently own a 19-5 overall, 3-1 conference record that puts them in second place in the conference standings. Pepperdine has earned a 21-7 overall, 3-1 conference record but sits just below the ‘Chos in the GCC standings due to losses in the three previous games between these two teams.

UCSB comes into this match as winners of their last four games and have been playing like a serious title contending team. Over these games their astounding depth and senior leadership has been on display. Senior utility Ivan Gvozdanovic has been dominant for the Gauchos averaging an impressive 3 goals a contest over the past four games. Along with Gvozdanovic, attackers like sophomore Nathan Puentes have been shooting very effectively. Last week, Puentes had a career night versus No. 7 Cal, ripping off a remarkable 6 goals. 

Pepperdine also comes in as winners of their last four games. The team’s last game was an impressive 10-9 victory over No. 8 Long Beach State. Pepperdine is led by senior center and 2-meter man Chris Dilworth who had 3 goals against Long Beach. If UCSB wants to beat Pepperdine on Thursday, they are going to need shut him down through their stout zone defense and make him swim by controlling the tempo of the game. If they continue to play as a cohesive unit, as they have over the past four games, the Gauchos can be a dangerous force entering this weekend’s match and the GCC tournament. 

The game is in Malibu this Saturday at noon. If you can’t make it down the coast to support your Gauchos, tune in to theFosh.net for live updates and stats during the game.