Estef Zuniga / The Daily Nexus

The UC Santa Barbara men’s water polo team travels this weekend to Malibu, California to compete in the Golden Coast Conference tournament. The No. 6 Gauchos come in with the third seed in this stacked college water polo tournament. They match up against No. 15 UC Irvine in their opening round match. UCSB will have to play it smart in the opening rounds if they want to advance far in this tournament that includes many of the top teams in the country.

The Gauchos have earned league-wide recognition themselves, with six UCSB players being named to GCC All-Conference teams, announced at the beginning of the week.

Senior utility Ivan Gvozdanovic and sophomore goalie Danny Roland earned All-GCC first-team honors, senior attacker Jacob Halle and sophomore driver Nathan Puentes were selected for the All-GCC second team, and freshman attacker Mason Chambliss made it onto the GCC All-Freshman team. Sophomore attacker Sam Nangle rounded out the list with an honorable mention. UCSB will hope to turn these individual accolades into team success this weekend, with a matchup against rival Pepperdine looming in the second round if the squad takes down Long Beach State.

As the team prepares for a long weekend of games, I got the opportunity to sit down with junior attacker Spencer Wood to talk about the upcoming games. Here is what Wood had to say:

Jesse Morrison, Daily Nexus: You guys are heading into the Gold Coast Conference tournament, how does the team feel going in?

Spencer Wood: We’re feelin’ really good, we’ve been training really hard this week and past weeks preparing for the multiple games we are gonna have. Everyone’s healthy, everyone’s fired up and we’re ready to win it all.

DN: You guys played Irvine in your first game; you guys beat them in your final home game of the season. How does the team feel about playing them in the first round?

SW: We feel great. They obviously aren’t a team we can look past; we are gonna have to play well and stick to our fundamentals. But I think we are really ready to crush ‘em down, then move on to the semi-finals and finals.

UCSB’s opening round match with UC Irvine kicks off this Friday at 11 a.m. If you can’t make it to Pepperdine to support your Gauchos, tune in to for live updates and stats.