UCSB men’s water polo jumps into frying pan

UCSB’s men’s water polo team will open its 2012 campaign this Saturday at the UCLA Invitational.

Traveling to the Bruin’s Spieker Aquatics Center, the Gauchos will introduce a competitive schedule with a pair of contests against No. 19 Cal Baptist and Claremont Mudd Scripps.

Sunday, the Gauchos will play three exhibition games against Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference mates No. 2 UCLA, No. 8 Pepperdine, and will close out the tournament with No. 1 USC.

UCSB brings an experienced team to the pool for the 2012 season, featuring 13 returners. This season’s new addtions to the active roster will include five redshirt freshmen and true freshmen Nick Jordan and Steven Tedsen. In all, the Gauchos will be comprised of two seniors, four juniors, seven sophomores and 14 freshmen.

After finishing fifth in the MPSF and seventh nationally in its 2011 campaign and returning the bulk of its crew, UCSB men’s water polo garnered 78 points in the Collegiate Water Polo Association’s Preseason National Poll, boosting them two positions to a No. 5 national ranking.

The Gauchos will see how they stand up against the nation’s best teams with matches against No. 2 UCLA and No. 1 USC on Sunday.

In a preseason prediction of the nation’s most competitive water polo conference, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Coaches’ Poll predicted the Gauchos will finish fifth in conference play this season. The top five teams in the country all come from the MPSF.

Following this weekend, the Gauchos are set to host No. 11 UC San Diego in their home opener (Sept. 8) before beginning a three-week road swing. UCSB will compete at the Inland Empire Tournament (Sept. 9), the NorCal Tournament (Sept. 15-16), and against Concordia (Sept. 23) before returning back home for the SoCal Tournament (Sept. 28-29). The Gauchos will host a double header against Iona and Harvard (Oct. 7) before opening MPSF conference play at home against No. 4 Stanford (Oct. 13).