Ivan Gvozdanovic stepped up in the big moments for the UCSB men’s water polo team.
When the Gauchos needed a goal, he’d usually provided it or dish off an assist. If they needed a stop, he’d come up with a steal or a field block.
The senior was one of the most important pieces in UCSB’s successful season. The Gauchos went 21-7, beat USC and Stanford when each were top-ranked in the country and also knocked off No. 4 Cal, No. 5 Long Beach State and No. 7 Pepperdine.
“Ivan was the best defensive player in the nation in 2019,” said UCSB coach Wolf Wigo. “He gave everything at the training sessions and in the matches, and was our best all-around player and the key for us winning so many big matches against the top teams in the nation.”
The Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table is honoring Gvozdanovic as the College Men’s Water Polo Player of the Year.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Round Table is awarding Gvozdanovic and its other college and high school athletes of the year for the fall and winter seasons in a virtual format. The awards are being presented on the SBART’s social media platforms of Twiitter, Instagram and Facebook and on the Noozhawk.com Sports Page.
There are no springs sports awards because the season was cut short by the coronavirus outbreak.
Gvozdanovic was named a first-team All American and All Golden Coast Conference. He led the Gauchos in total points with 78 (37 goals, 41 assists). His total assists ranked and 39 steals ranked second in the conference, and he was the leader in assists per game at 1.46.
“Ivan has a tremendous amount of knowledge and was like a coach in the water for us,” Wigo said. “He will be very difficult to replace.”