Sept. 14, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - After posting a 5-0 record at last weekend's Inland Empire Tournament, the tenth-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's water polo team will return to action this Saturday and Sunday at the Northern California Invitational being hosted by No. 4 Stanford. The Gauchos will face No. 7 Loyola Marymount for the second time this season in the tournament's opening round at 9:20 a.m. on Saturday.
The No. 10 Gauchos captured five straight wins last weekend over Whittier (17-4), Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (17-6), Redlands (13-8), La Verne (16-5) and Pomona-Pitzer (15-6) to lift their season record to 7-2.
UCSB outscored its opponents 78-29 last weekend and junior driver Ross Sinclair led the way with 21 goals. Sinclair scored at least a hat trick in each of the games with a season-high six goals against tournament co-host Redlands on Saturday. Sinclair was awarded Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Mikasa Player of the Week honors for his outstanding performance over the weekend.
Sinclair currently leads the Gauchos for goals scored this season with 26 total and is the only UCSB player to have reached double-digit goals in 2006. Tied for second on the team are Travis Watts and Coulson Lantz who each have nine goals on the early season.
On Saturday the Gauchos will face Loyola Marymount for the second time this season at the Nor Cal Invitational. The Lions topped UCSB 10-5 to take fifth place at the UC San Diego Triton Invitational at the beginning of the month. LMU is currently 4-2 on the early season and most recently faced a 12-4 loss to Nor Cal Invitational bracket mate USC.
Depending on the result of game one, UCSB will either face No. 2 USC or Santa Clara in its second game on Saturday. Defending MPSF and NCAA Champion USC will carry a 21 game win streak into this weekend's tournament and has posted a 2-0 record on the 2006 season. Santa Clara currently stands at 0-4 on the early season.
The Nor Cal Invitational features 16 teams including 14 that are currently ranked in the Collegiate Water Polo Association Men's Collegiate Top 20 Poll, including all nine MPSF teams. With many of the nation's top men's water polo teams facing each other for the first time this season the Nor Cal Invitational will be one of the first indicators of where each team truly stands this season.