Friday, Nov. 2, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.
No. 6 UCSB (17-8, 2-1) at No. 11 UC Irvine (8-11, 1-2)
at Anteater Aquatics Complex in Irvine, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Anteaters: 47-104
Last meeting: L, 10-7 at GCC Championships in Irvine, Calif. (Nov. 17, 2017)
Gauchos Shut 49ers Out in Second Half
UC Santa Barbara closed out its October slate by ending a two-game skid, knocking off No. 8 Long Beach State 11-7 behind stellar defense down the stretch. The Gauchos headed into halftime trailing 7-5, but would come out of the break fiery on both ends, outscoring the Beach 6-0 over the final 16 minutes. Boris Jovanovic (4 goals) and Ivan Gvozdanovic (3) matched the entire LBSU team on the scoresheet, while goalkeeper Tiago Bonchristiano racked up nine outstanding saves on the defensive end. With the win, the Gauchos completed a three-game season sweep of the 49ers.
Road Finale in Irvine
On Friday at 7:00 p.m., No. 6 UCSB travels to face No. 11 UC Irvine in their lone match-up this season. Last year, the two sides met four times, with the Anteaters coming away victorious in the last three meetings. UCI owns a 63-61 edge in the all-time series.
Historic Year for Jovanovic
An offensive force since the first weekend of his senior season, driver Boris Jovanovic has racked up a GCC-leading 75 goals this year on a .431 shooting percentage, averaging a hat trick per game. He is on pace to join Milos Golic (82 goals, 2008) as the program's only 80-goal scorers since 1991. The Serbian native has had 19 multi-goal efforts and 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. Jovanovic has also tallied eight assists, 13 steals and team-leading marks of 84 points and 21 drawn exclusions.
Year to Remember
At 17-8 overall and 2-1 in the GCC, UCSB has the highest win percentage (.680) and at least four more wins than any other team in the conference. This marks the sixth time in the last eight years that the Gauchos have had at least 16 wins. UCSB's .680 win percentage is also good for its second-highest since 1991, second only to the 2016 squad which went 18-8 overall (.692) and 5-0 in conference play.
Santa Barbara is averaging 13 goals per game this year, led by Jovanovic's 75. 12 different Gauchos have reached double-figures in goals, and four have done so in assists. Ivan Gvozdanovic is second on the team with 69 points, tallying 45 goals on a .375 shooting percentage. His 24 assists rank in the top-five of the conference. During GCC play, Gvozdanovic has a team-high 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists), slightly beating out Jovanovic (11 points). Cole Brosnan (28), Leo Yuno (26), Sam Nangle (16) and Tommy Fellner (16) round out UCSB's top-six goalscorers.
Defense, Defense, Defense
Goalkeeper Tiago Bonchristiano has been UCSB's defensive stalwart in the cage all season, leading the Gauchos to a 13-7 record as a starter. The Brazilian native has accumulated 139 saves – good for a top-three site among GCC goalkeepers – on a .560 save percentage.
The Gauchos – who were predicted to finish third in this year's GCC Preseason Poll – are a near-perfect 7-1 against conference foes so far this season, with five of the wins coming away from Santa Barbara's Campus Pool. Their only GCC defeat came in a 12-11 loss to Pacific on Oct. 20, ending a run of seven straight wins against GCC foes going back to last season.
After starting the year at No. 10 in the CWPA (Collegiate Water Polo Association) Varsity Polls, UCSB moved up five spots to No. 5 for a several weeks, before dropping to No. 6 the past two weeks. It was the program's highest ranking in two years, since it earned as high as a No. 4 ranking during the 2016 season. That year, 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.
Santa Barbara has gone a perfect 2-0 in overtime games this season, with both wins coming against GCC opponents. The Gauchos defeated Pacific 13-11 in a tightly contested battle on Sept. 15, as Ivan Gvozdanovic and Leo Yuno found paydirt during the extra periods. Just five days later, UCSB's Adam Lott would strike first in the opening period of overtime at Pepperdine, breaking a 13-13 tie that gave the Gauchos their first lead since the first quarter. They would go on to win 16-13 win, improving to a perfect 3-0 mark against GCC foes during non-conference play.