No. 5 Gauchos Travel to No. 1 USC Sunday in Final Pre-Conference Tune-Up

Photo by Eric Isaacs
Photo by Eric Isaacs

The Schedule
Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018 at 1:00 p.m.
No. 5 UCSB (12-4) at No. 1 USC (14-0)
at Uytengsu Aquatics Center in Los Angeles, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Trojans: 20-90-2
Last meeting: L, 10-3 at UC Davis (Sept. 15, 2018)
Live Stats

Last Week Recap
No. 5 UC Santa Barbara split its games against ranked opposition last week, defeating No. 11 Pepperdine in overtime Thursday on the road, 16-14, before falling to No. 3 Stanford at home, 9-7, on Saturday. Boris Jovanovic continued his stellar form, leading the way with six goals in the win over the Waves. That was the Gauchos fourth straight win, marking the second time this season that they have won at least four games in a row. Jovanovic would add another two scores against the Cardinal in a game which remained close into the second half.

Jovanovic Out to Record-Breaking Opening Month
Boris Jovanovic entered the season with a team-leading 100 goals in his career, a number which hasn't stopped growing since his senior year began. Averaging more than a hat trick per game, the Novi Sad, Serbia native has tallied the scoresheet a remarkable 50 times in 16 games, posting 13 multi-goal efforts. He was named the GCC's Player of the Week three straight times to begin the year, becoming the first player in conference history to do so. He has also tallied six assists and a team-leading nine drawn exclusions.

Taking on the Trojans
This will be the second meeting between UCSB and USC so far this season. The Trojans topped the Gauchos 10-3 at the Aggie Roundup back on Sept. 15 in a game where Jovanovic put away all three UCSB goals. The Gauchos are 20-90-2 all-time against USC.

Strong Start
At 12-4 overall, UCSB has the highest win percentage (.750) in the conference and twice as many wins as any other GCC team through four weeks of play. That already surpasses the team's win total from last year, when it went 11-12 overall. It's also the program's best start to a season since 2013, when it began the year 12-2.

Defense, Defense, Defense
Goalkeeper Tiago Bonchristiano has been a stalwart in the cage all season, leading the Gauchos to an 8-3 record as a starter. With a number of huge saves under his belt this season, the sophomore from Brazil has accumulated a team-leading 145 saves this season on a .503 save percentage. Also making key contributions on the defensive end have been junior Ivan Gvozdanovic and sophomore Mason McQuet, who lead the Gauchos with 24 steals and six field blocks, respectively.

National Rankings
After starting the year at No. 10 in the CWPA (Collegiate Water Polo Association) Varsity Polls, UCSB has moved up five spots to No. 5 for the past two weeks. This is the program's highest ranking in nearly two years, since it was ranked No. 5 during the week of Nov. 30, 2016. In what was Santa Barbara's first season as a member of the GCC, the Gauchos finished 18-8 overall and had a perfect 5-0 mark in conference play.

GCC Competition
The Gauchos – who were predicted to finish third in this year's GCC Preseason Poll – are a perfect 3-0 against conference foes so far this season, with all three wins coming away from Santa Barbara's Campus Pool. They defeated No. 10 Long Beach State 11-10 on Sept. 2, No. 6 Pacific 13-11 in overtime on Sept. 15, and most recently topped No. 11 Pepperdine 16-14 last Thursday in another overtime thriller. UCSB will play its first official conference match at home against San Jose State on Oct. 5.