SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara senior forward Nick DePuy became the first-ever three-time Big West Offensive Player of the Year winner, junior midfielder Kevin Feucht took home Midfielder of the Year honors, and a total of nine Gauchos earned All-League status as the Big West unveiled the 2016 Men's Soccer All-Conference Team on Tuesday morning.
Joining DePuy and Feucht on the All-Big West First Team were midfielder Josue España and forward Ahinga Selemani. It was the third All-League First Team honor in DePuy's career, the second for España and Feucht, and the first for Selemani.
Rounding out UCSB's honorees were goalie Titouan Le Roux (Honorable Mention, All-Frosh Team), left back Randy Mendoza (second career Honorable Mention), midfielder Andy Perez (Honorable Mention), forward Noah Billingsley (All-Frosh), and defender/mid Lamar Batista (All-Frosh).
The Gauchos' nine All-League recipients helped the team to a 6-1-3 mark in Big West play and a fourth straight North Division title. As the top team in the North, UCSB has earned a bye in the quarterfinals of the Big West Tournament, which opens this Saturday. At Harder Stadium on Wednesday, Nov. 9, the Gauchos will host a semifinal contest against the winner of the Cal State Fullerton-UC Davis first round game.
Elsewhere around the Big West, CSUN picked up a trio individual honors as Patrick Hickman was named Defensive Player of the Year, Terry Davila was named Coach of the Year, and Kevin Marquez was named Goalie of the Year. Blue-Green Rival Cal Poly scooped up the last award, as midfielder Christian Enriquez was named Freshman of the Year.
DePuy served as the focal point for UCSB's offense once again in 2016, scoring six of the team's 30 goals while drawing heavy coverage all season to open up room for teammates. The Irvine native is the Big West's active career leader in goals (31), points (66), shots (223), and game-winning goals (16), and this season he is once again pacing the league in shots per game (3.16).
His best play this season came in late September when he scored in three straight games against in-state rivals Loyola Marymount, Cal, and UC Riverside. He also registed the game-winning goal in crucial triumphs over St. Mary's and UC Davis.
During DePuy's four years on campus, UCSB has been extremely tough to beat when he gets on the scoresheet. All-time, the Gauchos are 19-2-6 when he registers a point. He is the 15th player ever – and fifth in UCSB history – to be named All-Big West First Team three times.
Feucht had a breakout campaign for UCSB in his junior season, totaling 10 goals and a pair of assists for a conference-best 22 points. He is the fifth different Gaucho to be named Midfielder of the Year since 2004 and the first since Nic Ryan in 2012. Earlier this season, he became just the sixth Gaucho ever to score a goal in five straight games, and he has notched at least one point in over half of UCSB's games (10 of 19).
The German national was named Big West Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 3 after scoring goals against UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton to help the Gauchos open conference play with a pair of wins. In addition, his three game-winning strikes rank second among all league players.
The one player in the Big West with more game-winners than Feucht was his own teammate, Ahinga Selemani, who had four. UCSB's speedy striker really put it together offensively after moving to the point of the attack near the start of conference play, as his five goals in Big West action led all players. He scored in four staight from Oct. 6-15 to help UCSB to the league regular season title.
UCSB's primary playmaker, Josue España followed up a solid 2015 debut season with an ever better senior campaign, notching a team-high seven assists, which ranked second in the conference. The Gauchos' No. 10 also netted the game-winning goal in UCSB's season-opening victory over Oakland back on Aug. 26.
A true freshman, Le Roux played beyond his years this season for UCSB. The French national was between the sticks for every minute of every game and led the NCAA in minutes played until making way for teammate Brandon Berke in the team's inconsequential season finale against UC Davis. His 0.72 GAA in Big West play ranked second among all conference keepers.
The team's lone returning starter on the back line from the 2015 Sweet Sixteen team, Mendoza played an important role for a UCSB defense that improved mightily over the season. He registered two assists on the season, was one of UCSB's primary sources of service from the left side, and served a mature presence for a Gaucho defense that allowed one goal or fewer in their final nine games.
Another veteran leader, Perez provided key minutes on the right side as both a defender and midfielder. Solid in possession, the Los Altos native chipped in three assists on the year while starting 16 of 19 games.
Billingsley and Batista both impressed in their true freshman seasons despite not cracking the squad until later in the year. The former recorded two goals and two assists while starting 10 of the final 13 games of the season. Batista settled in as a holding midfielder down the stretch and was a strong two-way presence. He set up Selemani's game-winning breakaway goal with a perfectly threaded through ball from the back on Oct. 8, and his strong tackle in overtime at UC Davis on Oct. 19 led to a counter the other way that was finished off with a goal from DePuy.
To view the entire 2016 Big West All-Conference Team, click here.
UCSB's 2016 Big West All-Conference Honorees
|Nick DePuy||Big West Offensive Player of the Year (Third Career), All-Big West First Team (Third Career)|
|Kevin Feucht||Big West Midfielder of the Year, All-Big West First Team (Second Career)|
|Ahinga Selemani||All-Big West First Team|
|Josue España||All-Big West First Team (Second Career)|
|Titouan Le Roux||All-Big West Honorable Mention, Big West All-Freshman Team|
|Randy Mendoza||All-Big West Honorable Mention (Second Career)|
|Andy Perez||All-Big West Honorable Mention|
|Noah Billingsley||Big West All-Freshman Team|
|Lamar Batista||Big West All-Freshman Team|