Gauchos Wrap Up Regular Season With History on the Line in Blue-Green Showdown

Achille Campion (Photo by Francis Lipinski)
Achille Campion (Photo by Francis Lipinski)

• The Schedule
Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013 at 8:00 p.m.
No. 12 UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal Poly (10-7-2, 3-4-2)
at Meredith Field Harder Stadium
Overall record vs. the Mustangs: 43-17-6
Last meeting: T, 1-1 (10/25/13 @ Cal Poly)
UCSB Streak/Form: Tied 3/WWTTT
UCSB Streak/Form vs. Cal Poly: Tied 1/LWLLT
Cal Poly/Form: Lost 1/WTTWL
Free online broadcast available at
Television coverage on Fox Sports Prime Ticket

For tickets, click here.

• Gauchos on the Small Screen
This weekend's matchup against Cal Poly will be broadcasted live by Fox Sports Prime Ticket, with coverage starting at 8:00 p.m. Mark Rogondino will handle play-by-play for the match, while Jon Herz will provide color commentary. This will be the third time this season that the Gauchos have a nationally televised game, following previous matchups against UCLA (Pac-12 Network) and Stanford (NSCAA TV). Prime Ticket can be found on the following channels – Cox Communications: 36/1036 (standard definition/HD), DIRECTV: 693, DISH Network: 411.

• Lezak to be Honored
UCSB alum and four-time gold medal Olympian Jason Lezak will be honored by the UCSB Alumni Association at halftime of the men's soccer game with the Distinguished Alumni Award, joining an exclusive group that includes Oscar winners Michael Douglas ('68), Eric Roth ('66), astronaut Leroy Chiao ('85), underwater explorer Bob Ballard ('65) and more. He will also join the Prime Ticket broadcast in the second half as a special guest. Lezak's signature Olympics moment came in the 2008 4X100 meter freestyle relay, where he made up a full body length in the anchor leg to capture the gold medal for the USA.

• The Week in Review
The Gauchos earned a draw in both of their games over the past week, first with UC Davis at home on Saturday and then at Sacramento State on Wednesday. In Saturday's clash with Davis, chances were few and far between in the first half, as the teams combined for just one shot on goal. Things opened up in the second half, as Matt Sheldon opened the scoring for the Aggies in the 71st minute. UCSB answered right back, as Charlie Miller got his head on a Kevin Garcia-Lopez cross to equalize. A great diving save from Josh McNeely on a Sheldon header in overtime kept the score at 1-1 as time expired. Against Sac State, the Gauchos were unable to take advantage of the Hornets playing a man down for the final 29 minutes of the match. UCSB's best chance came on an Adis Islamovic redirection of an Ismaila Jome shot in the 109th minute, but the former was flagged offside and time ran out with the score still at 0-0.

• Staying Hot
Though last month's tie with Cal Poly snapped a season-high seven game winning streak, UCSB remains unbeaten in its last 10 games. It is just the second time since 2005 that the Gauchos have gone 10 straight without a loss, the other being last year's 11 game streak to open the season. With a win or draw against Poly, the Gauchos will match the fourth longest unbeaten streak in program history. UCSB hasn't lost in a over a month, their last defeat coming on Sep. 27 to Stanford.

• Conference Killers
At 6-0-3 in Big West conference play, the Gauchos have the chance to become just the second team to go unbeaten for an entire conference schedule since the league reinstituted men's soccer in 2001. The only other team to accomplish the feat was the 2002 UCSB squad, who went 9-0-1 en route to a league championship.

• Division Champions
UCSB officially clinched the Big West North's top spot when Sac State beat UC Davis a pair of weekends ago. It is UCSB's first league crown since 2009, and the 11th time in the last 12 seasons that the team will reach the postseason. As the top seed in the North, the Gauchos earn a bye in the first round of the conference tournament and the right to host at least their semifinal match.

• Poll Vaulting
With their recent form, the Gauchos have caught the attention of coaches and media nationwide. Tim Vom Steeg's squad is ranked higher then they have been all season in each major poll, with every publication listing UCSB in its top-15. Additionally, the Gauchos are ranked No. 5 in the NCAA RPI rankings, which is tops among all Big West schools. They have been as high as No. 2 in the RPI this season, which is believed to be the best ranking in program history.

• The Blue-Green Rivalry
One of the fiercest rivalries on the West Coast, another chapter in the Blue-Green Rivalry is set to unfold this Saturday night. UCSB currently leads the 2013-14 rivalry by a score of 4-3, with wins coming in women's volleyball, men's swimming, and women's swimming. Since the rivalry officially started in 2009, the Gauchos hold a 61-38 edge in contests between the two schools, with UCSB taking the Blue-Green Rivalry Championship in each year. In soccer specifically, the Gauchos hold a slim 5-4-1 lead over the Mustangs. To learn more about the rivalry, check out the official website here.

• Filling the House
After drawing just under 50,000 fans into Harder Stadium last season, the Gauchos have now led the nation in attendance for six consecutive years, dating back to 2007. Overall, UCSB has four of the five highest on-campus regular season draws in NCAA history, including a record 15,896 against UCLA on Sep. 24, 2010. UCSB-Cal Poly games have been an especially large draw, as last year's Cal Poly matchup at Harder Stadium saw 13,467 fans go through the Harder Stadium turnstiles, the most of any NCAA match in 2012. With 11,075 fans showing up at the Spanos Center in both 2012 and 2013, the three highest attended NCAA soccer matches over the last two years– including the NCAA Tournament – have been Gaucho-Mustang showdowns. Of the 12 highest attended regular season, on-campus games in NCAA history, eight are UCSB-Cal Poly games and 11 are games featuring the Gauchos.

• Keeping It Close
One reason the Blue-Green soccer rivalry has been called the best in the country is how remarkably close each and every contest between the two squads has been. Of the past 13 contests, all but one has been decided by one goal or less. That bodes well for the Gauchos, who are 7-3-3 in one-goal games this year, while Cal Poly has gone 3-4-2.

• Harder Stadium Not So Friendly to the Mustangs
Last year's loss to Cal Poly at home was the first time since 1998 that the Mustangs had picked up a win at Harder Stadium.  Between 1999 and 2011, UCSB went 12-0-1 at Harder Stadium against Cal Poly. Last year was the first time since 1997 that the Mustangs swept a season series from the Gauchos.

• Rookies Rack Up Assists
Despite being first year players, Drew Murphy and Ismaila Jome have been creating a multitude of chances from the left side for the Gauchos. In fact, Murphy paces the conference with his seven helpers. The midfielder has recorded points in four of his last eight games and picked up his first career goal earlier this year against UC Davis. His seven assists this season are the most by a first-year UCSB player since Eric Price's freshman record 14-assist campaign in 1978. Not far behind Murphy, is Jome, who ranks fourth in the conference with six assists. His 10 points in home games are the most of any Gaucho. Jome is just one of two Gauchos to start all 16 games so far this season.

• Campion Lives Up to His Name
Despite missing the last two games with a leg injury, senior forward Achille Campion figures to play a big role on Saturday night. As the focal point of the offense in the final third, Campion has produced one of the best goal scoring records in the conference. In Big West play, he ranks second among all players in goals per game (0.44 per game) and points per game (1.26) while leading the league in game winners (two). Of the 13 games in which he has scored over his career, UCSB has lost just one. The Gauchos are 5-0-1 so far this season when he finds the back of the net.

• McNeely Thrives in Net
Freshman goalkeeper Josh McNeely is in the midst of a historic season in the cage. The Calabasas, Calif. native is currently on pace to set program freshman records across the board in appearances, minutes, saves, shutouts, goals against average, and save percentage. Going into Saturday night's matchup, his GAA of 0.75 leads the conference, while his five shutouts rank second. He had perhaps his best performance of the season earlier this year against Cal Poly, recording four highlight saves, all of the highlight reel variety.