UCSB coach Wigo talks team depth and earning a tournament bid
The second-ranked Gauchos are led by head coach Wolf Wigo. The three-time Olympian and former captain of the U.S. team was a four-time All-American who led Stanford to two NCAA titles. Since 2005, Wigo has been piloting the UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos and they have been a fixture in the national top ten.
UC-Santa Barbara performed incredibly at the SoCal Invitational. On consecutive days, UCSB knocked off then-No. 3 Stanford and then-No. 2 UCLA in dramatic fashion to advance to the tournament final before losing to top-ranked USC. This performance moved UCSB into the second slot in last week’s national poll and puts them firmly in the mix of teams looking for that at-large bid to December’s national championships.
UCSB is coming off an electric performance at SoCals where you defeated Stanford. After that, you topped UCLA for the first time since 1992. Can you tell us a little about your performance?
Wigo: We knew we had a good team this year. We unfortunately lost to Stanford by a goal at NorCals so we were motivated to avenge that. Our first game was hard and we did not look past UCSD. We trained for them all week. When we were down to them 6-4 at halftime, it was pretty scary to be honest. We were subbing a lot and had a great second half because of that. We outscored them 11-2.
Against Stanford, we outscored them 6-1 in the fourth quarter. That performance led to us coming out firing against UCLA. Each win was really special. In the final game against USC, they had not played a hard game all tournament, which was much different from us, who played three. We look forward to seeing them again in league.
Seven players scored goals against Stanford and six players found the net versus UCLA with Teddy Zhang, Matt Gronow and Derek Shoemaker all exploding intermittently. Can you tell us about your depth and balance?
Wigo: One of our biggest strengths is that we have a lot of guys. We have different players that can step up in each game. Teams cannot just try and get one guy in foul trouble. We are strong and deep at every position.
Myles Christian had ten saves against USC and UCLA along with fifteen against Stanford. Can you tell us what he brings between the pipes?
Wigo: Myles is having a great year. He is tremendous at blocking the ball but is also good at getting steals and is a great passer. I would rather have him than any other goalie in the country. He gives us a big advantage in every game we play.
Can you tell us about your expectations for your squad and if they have adjusted after SoCals?
Wigo: The expectations are the same. We wanted to be in this position. If we can beat the bottom five of the MPSF and take one or two against the others, we can put ourselves in position to get at least second place. Then you have the MPSF Tournament and you have a chance to get that bid to NCAAs.
We are not getting ahead of ourselves. While we have a very strong team, we cannot slip up. We have to focus on every team in the conference, as everybody has very good teams.