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    HomeSportsUC Santa Barbara Men's Water Polo to Compete in Inaugural Big West-WCC...

    UC Santa Barbara Men’s Water Polo to Compete in Inaugural Big West-WCC Clash

    The UC Santa Barbara Men’s Water Polo team heads to Orange County this weekend, where they will take part in The Big West-WCC Clash, hosted by UC Irvine. This year’s tournament is the first-ever, with 2023 being the first season of men’s water polo in both The Big West and the West Coast Conference. The Gauchos are in Group B and will face No. 11 UC San Diego and No. 8 UC Davis on Saturday, then No. 15 San Jose State and one of the Group A members, No. 16 California Baptist, No. 9 UC Irvine, No. 7 Long Beach State and No. 13 Loyola Marymount on Sunday.

    WHEN AND WHERE TO WATCH

    UC Santa Barbara’s two Saturday games will both be held at UC Irvine’s Anteater Aquatics Center, with the day set to start at 10:45 a.m. against the Tritons. The Gauchos and Aggies are set to square off at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday.

    On Sunday, UC Santa Barbara will be at Tustin High School for their game against San Jose State, which is scheduled to get underway at 9:15 a.m. The time and location of their final game of the weekend will be determined by the results of the previous three. If the Gauchos finish as one of the top two teams in their group, they will play at UC Irvine, while a third or fourth-place finish would send them to Tustin High. If they finish second or fourth, they will play their final game of the weekend at 2 p.m. A first or third-place finish would have them start at 3:15 p.m.

    Per UC Irvine policy, tickets must be purchased online. There will not be ticket sales on-site at either UC Irvine or Tustin High School. For fans following from afar, live stats will be available on ucsbgauchos.com for all four of UC Santa Barbara’s games this weekend.

    WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE GAUCHOS (9-6)

    UC Santa Barbara comes into the weekend riding a two-game winning streak, both against ranked opponents. The Gauchos defeated then-No. 9 San Jose State and then-No. 15 Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles last weekend, earning their first two ranked wins of the season. Attacker Adam Gyenis scored 11 goals across the two games, including eight of the team’s 13 in their victory over LMU, and was named The Big West Player of the Week.

    Following his impressive performance, Gyenis is now second on the team in both goals (28) and points (40) this season, behind only center Dash McFarland, who leads not only the team but the entire conference with 43 goals. Mason Chambliss continues to lead the Gauchos in assists, as he did last season, providing 17 helpers so far this season. Brock Zamanian is second with 14. Gyenis and Ryan McManigal each have 12.

    In goal, Levi Lentin has emerged as UC Santa Barbara’s first-choice netminder, playing 294 minutes across 10 games, but all three Gaucho goalies have appeared in at least a third of the team’s contests so far. Lentin’s team-leading 73 saves are tied for fifth in The Big West.

    SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION

    UC San Diego (8-7, 1-0 Big West) comes into the weekend on the back of a heartbreaking loss to Loyola Marymount in their annual rivalry game. The Tritons led, 4-3, at halftime but let that lead slip away and conceded the decisive goal with 20 seconds remaining in the game. UC San Diego now has only one win in their last five games against Division-I opponents. Two Tritons, Bennett Axline and Kaden Likins did score hat-tricks against the Lions, but the team’s leading scorer, Landon Akerstrom, was held goal-less on Wednesday night.

    UC Davis (7-6) was picked to finish first in The Big West Preseason Coaches’ Poll and started the season by going undefeated on opening weekend but have cooled down since. The Aggies have only two wins in their last seven matches, both against Santa Clara. UC Davis comes into the weekend on a three-game skid, having finished eighth at last weekend’s MPSF Invitational in Los Angeles. They did score double-digit goals in each of their last two losses, including putting 11 past No. 4 Pepperdine. The Aggies have plenty of options in attack, with their top five scorers all within four goals of each other.

    San Jose State (2-2) will be meeting UC Santa Barbara for a second weekend in a row on Sunday. The Gauchos upset the then-No. 9 Spartans in Los Angeles last weekend and will look to do it again this weekend. Preseason All-WCC Team selection Bence Szabo scored a hat-trick for San Jose State in that game. Szabo also found the back of the net once against Loyola Marymount last weekend, although the Spartans lost that game as well.

    Group A will provide UC Santa Barbara’s final opponent of the weekend and is made up of No. 14 California Baptist (6-8), No. 9 UC Irvine (7-4), No. 7 Long Beach State (10-4, 0-1 Big West) and No. 13 LMU (6-3). The Lancers come into the weekend on a four-game losing streak, but did defeat the Gauchos in their first meeting of the year, 11-10. The hosting Anteaters have won three straight after a narrow overtime loss to Long Beach State and a slim home defeat against then-No. 2 USC. The Beach have the best record in The Big West and were the first team in the conference to crack 10 wins, taking down UC Irvine and UC Davis at the MPSF Invitational in Los Angeles. The Lions would be another familiar foe for the Gauchos, as the two teams met in LA last weekend. That was the game Adam Gyenis scored eight goals to power UC Santa Barbara to victory, one of two losses for LMU in their last five contests.

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