SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara winger Ismaila Jome was named the Big West Freshman of the Year and Tim Vom Steeg was tabbed as the conference Coach of the Year as a total of nine Gauchos were selected to the 2013 All-Big West Men's Soccer Team, it was announced by the league on Monday afternoon.
UCSB had the most All-Conference recipients of any Big West team. It is also the most honorees for the program since 2010, when nine players were also selected.
Besides Jome and Vom Steeg, a number of Gauchos received conference accolades as well. Forward Achille Campion and defender Peter Schmetz were named to the All-Big West First Team, midfielder Fifi Baiden was named to the Second Team, while forward Goffin Boyoko and defender Nick DePuy garnered Honorable Mentions. DePuy, Jome, Drew Murphy, and Josh McNeely were all named to the All-Freshman Team.
The Coach of the Year Award is the fourth of Vom Steeg's illustrious career and his first since 2010. At the helm of a team that started five freshmen for the majority of the year and had as many as seven freshmen on the field at one time, he led the Gauchos to an undefeated record in conference play for just the second time in Big West history. Since a win over Loyola Marymount on Sep. 29, it has been a constant climb for the Gauchos. Unbeaten in their last 11 games, UCSB is ranked as high as No. 12 in the national polls and enter the week ranked eighth in the NCAA's RPI.
Headlining the player honors is Jome's Freshman of the Year award. Jome's strong play as a first year player continued an encouraging trend, as UCSB has produced the conference Freshman of the Year in four of the past five seasons. The Banjul, Gambia native terrorized defenders all year on the left wing, totaling a scoreline of two goals, six assists, and 10 points. He singlehandedly created the game winning goal against Sacramento State on Oct. 22, and turned in multi-point efforts on three different occassions. He was also the only Gaucho to start every single game in the regular season. Besides his freshman award, he was also included on the All-Big West First Team.
Joining Jome on the first team were Campion and Schmetz.
Netting six goals in just seven appearances as a junior, Campion continued his goal scoring ways in 2013. The French forward co-led the team in goals with seven despite missing the last three games of the season with a hamstring injury. He finished the year with the third best goal scoring rate in the conference at 0.44 per game.
Schmetz, a left center back, picked up his second career All-Conference award after receiving an Honorable Mention as a sophomore in 2011. He was the anchor of a back line in 2013 that had the lowest goals against average (.078) in the conference. He also had an offensive touch this year, notching three goals, most notably an equalizer at Cal State Northridge on Oct. 11.
Baiden, who was a 2012 All-Big West First Teamer, appeared in 15 games for the Gauchos this season and did a fine job as a holding midfielder in disrupting the opposition's offense. His improved play at the end of the year led to four shutouts in conference play.
Boyoko received his first career All-Conference award, leading the team with 17 points and co-leading the team with seven goals. Of his seven scores, a whopping five were game winners, tied for the most among all Big West players.
Playing in a number of positions around the field, DePuy settled into his role as a center back following a knee injury to Schmetz late in the year. His height led him to excel in the back, as the Gauchos allowed just one goal in three games after DePuy took over full time.
Murphy and McNeely both had spectacular freshman years for the Gauchos. Murphy's eight assists were the most of any player in the conference and the most by a UCSB freshman since Eric Price's 14 assist campaign in 1978. After winning the starting job early in the year, McNeely put together the lowest GAA of any keeper in the conference and remains on track to set program freshman records in appearances, minutes, goals against average, and save percentage.
The Gauchos return to action this weekend when they host the semifinal match of the Big West Tournament on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. Having earned a bye for the quarterfinal round as the Big West North Division champions, UCSB will play the winner of tomorrow's showdown between Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge.
Tickets for that game are on sale, and can be purchased by calling the UCSB Athletics Ticket Office at 805-893-UCSB starting tomorrow morning.
For the entire All-Big West Conference Team, click here.