Aug. 21, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team has been ranked eighth in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation's Preseason Coaches' Poll it was announced earlier today. The Gauchos, who finished ninth out of nine teams in 2005 after posting a league record of 0-8, have moved up one notch and are picked to place ahead of Long Beach State.
Wolf Wigo returns for his second season at the helm of the Gaucho program and will look to improve last season's league finish as well as the team's 13-17 overall record. Wigo will be able to display his recruiting chops for the first time this season with this year's freshman class being the first brought in by the former Olympian.
The Gauchos return several old faces this season including three of the top-four leading scorers from 2005: Coulson Lantz, Matt Tilburg and Miles Price. Goalkeeper Rick Wright also returns for his junior campaign after posting 131 saves last season and averaging 7.82 saves per game.
USC tops the MPSF poll, but just a single point behind the Trojans stands Cal, both teams received four first-place votes. The Trojans are the reigning MPSF and NCAA Champions while Cal finished last season fifth in the conference after posting a 5-3 MPSF record.
UCLA and Stanford are ranked third and fourth respectively after finishing the 2005 MPSF season in the reverse order. Notably, Stanford boasts Coach Wigo's twin brothers Drac and Janson as its top newcomers.
The Waves of Pepperdine were ranked fifth, followed by Pacific. MPSF runners-up UC Irvine received the No. 7 ranking, most likely due to the fact that the top two leading scorers from the 2005 campaign will be redshirting this season.
Long Beach State, which went 1-7 in league with the Gauchos allowing the 49ers' lone win, rounds out the list at No. 9.
UCSB, which finished the 2005 season tied for 13th in the Collegiate Water Polo Associations National Poll, will open up the 2005 season at the UC San Diego Triton Invitational held in La Jolla, Calif. on Sept. 2-3. The Gauchos' home opener will not be played until Friday, Sept. 29 when they host UC San Diego.