Fifth-Seeded Gauchos Head to MPSF Championship

Matt Gronow (By Ron Robertson)
Matt Gronow (By Ron Robertson)

• The Schedule
Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship Tournament
Friday, Nov. 25, 2011
No. 5 UCSB vs. No. 4 Stanford, 3 pm
at UCLA's Spieker Aquatics Center
Live Video and Audio

Saturday, Nov. 26 – Sunday, Nov. 27
No. 5 UCSB vs. TBD 

• First Turkey, Then The Tourney
After Thanksgiving, UCSB will take on the nation's best at the 2011 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship Tournament, which is being hosted by UCLA this Friday through Sunday. The Gauchos earned the fifth seed into the tournament and will face No. 4 seed Stanford in the first round. 

• Watch Live
UCLA will be providing a live video stream of all 12 of this weekend's MPSF Tournament matches. Audio broadcasts will be available for the four first round matches on Friday, the two semifinal games on Saturday and the third place and championship games on Sunday. To tune in, click here.

• The Match-Up
UCSB and Stanford have faced each other once this season and the Cardinal came away with a narrow 6-5 victory over the Gauchos on Oct. 9. UCSB's last win over Stanford was a 12-10 victory on Oct. 2, 2010.

• What's On The Line
The winner of this weekend's tournament will earn the MPSF's automatic berth into the 2011 NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship, a four-team tournament, which will be hosted by Cal the weekend of Dec. 3-4. The last time UCSB advanced to the NCAA Tournament was in 1990. The highest MPSF Tournament finish during Wolf Wigo's previous six seasons at the helm of the program is fifth (2006 and 2008).

• For The Record
The Gauchos enter this weekend with a 15-10 overall record and wrapped up the MPSF regular season schedule with a 3-5 conference mark, their best since they went 4-4 in 2008. Regardless of this weekend's results, UCSB is guaranteed a winning record for the first time since the 2008 season when it went 17-11.

• Pulse On The Poll
After seven weeks ranked as the No. 5 team in the country, UCSB dropped one spot to No. 6 this week in the Collegiate Water Polo Association National Top-20 poll. Pacific jumped ahead of the Gauchos from seventh to fifth. USC is ranked first, while UCLA, Cal and Stanford round out the top-four, respectively.

• Gronow Knows Goals
Sophomore Matt Gronow paces the Gauchos with 38 goals this season. He has had 10 multiple goal games and is second on the squad with 20 assists. The Australian has hit a bit of a scoring slump as of late, though, and has gone three games without a point, marking his longest drought of the year.

• Spreading The Wealth
Jesse Gillespie is currently second on the team with his 27 goals and he leads the squad with 23 assists. He has had eight multiple-goal games.

• Freshmen Firepower
Three of the Gauchos' top-six scorers this season are true freshmen: Chase Racich (26), Eric Van de Mortel (22) and Derek Shoemaker (21). Shoemaker and Van de Mortel have each contributed 12 assists while Racich has dished out eight. 

• Going The Extra Myles
Goalkeeper Myles Christian leads the MPSF with his 10.48 saves per game average. The junior – who splits time in goal with Jay Lovero – has posted a total of 152 saves this season. Lovero has an 8.2 saves per game average and a team-leading 8.1 goals against average.