SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – For the first time in 28 years, three Gauchos from the UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team earned All-American status, the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPC) announced.
All three Gauchos take home the first ACWPC All-American honors of their careers. This comes just several weeks after each of them earned their first All-GCC First Team accolades as well.
Jovanovic put together one of the most prolific offensive seasons in recent memory, averaging just under a hat trick per game (2.96 goals/gm) as a senior en route to leading the GCC with 77 goals on a .430 shooting percentage. The 77 goals were tied for the seventh-most in a single season in program history. That pushed his career total to 177 goals overall, good for No. 5 all-time at UCSB.
On fire right out of the gates, he became the first player in conference history to be named the GCC's Player of the Week three straight times, doing so in the first three weeks of the season. Jovanovic finished his senior year with 20 multi-goal efforts in just 26 games.
Backing up Jovanovic on both ends of the pool was fellow Novi Sad, Serbia native Ivan Gvozdanovic. The junior took finished second on the team with 73 points and tallying 48 goals on a .381 shooting percentage. His 25 assists were tied for No. 4 in the conference entering the final week of play. He also led the team in the steals department, again ranking in the conference's top-5 with 37, and tied for team-high honors with seven field blocks.
Tiago Bonchristiano played the role of the immovable object in the cage for much of the season, leading the Gauchos to a 14-7 record as their starting goalkeeper this season. The Brazilian native accumulated 149 saves – good for a top-five spot among GCC goalkeepers – on a .558 save percentage. A handful of times, his clutch stops kept the Gauchos ahead in tightly contested games, helping give UCSB four wins this season by two goals or less.
The Gauchos finished their 2018 campaign with an 18-8 record and a 3-1 mark in conference play. It was their highest overall winning percentage since 1990. Unsurprisingly, that was also the last time the Gauchos had more than two All-Americans in the same season, as they had four that year.
To view the complete list of 2018 ACWPC All-Americans, please click here.