Gauchos Take 2-0 Record to the Pacific Northwest

Photo by Eric Isaacs
Photo by Eric Isaacs

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The Schedule
Friday, Aug. 31 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at Portland
Merlo Field - Portland, Ore.
All-time record vs. the Pilots: 2-3-1
Last meeting: Sept. 23, 2017 - UCSB def. UP, 1-0
UCSB Form: W W
UP Form: T W
Video: WCCSports.com
Live Stats

Sunday, Sept. 2 at 6:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at Seattle
Championship Field Stadium - Seattle, Wash.
All-time record vs. the Redhawks: 2-0
Last meeting: Sept. 16, 2012 - UCSB def. SU, 6-2
UCSB Form: W W
SU Form: L
Video: WAC Digital Network 
Live Stats

Video Stream Available
Both Friday's match at Portland and Sunday's match at Seattle will feature a live video stream for free as well as live stats. WCCSports.com will broadcast the match at Portland while the WAC Digital Network will stream Sunday's match. You can watch the Gauchos all season long as home games are streamed through BigWest.TV with the Voice of the Gauchos, Gerry Fall, on the call. 

College Cup Tickets on Sale Now!
UC Santa Barbara hosts the 2018 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer College Cup on Dec. 7 and 9 at Harder Stadium. College Cup ticket packages as well as UCSB season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online or by calling the UCSB Athletics Ticket Office at 805-893-UCSB. 

Weathering the Red Storm
UCSB defeated St. John's for the first time in program history (three meetings all-time) with a 2-0 triumph over the Red Storm in its season-opener last Friday. Freshman sensation Carter Clemmensen gave the Gauchos their first goal of the season with a header off a Hunter Ashworth throw-in in the 41st minute of the match. Last season's offensive leader, Rodney Michael, picked up where he left off with an impressive cut back, left-footed strike for a score after running down a perfect pass from Sahid Conteh. Making his debut in goal, Santa Barbara High School product Ben Roach made a shutout-preserving save in the 71st minute in what was the only real threat on the night from St. John's. 

Riverside Redemption
The Gauchos completed its redemption tour with a convincing 3-1 victory over UC Riverside in a non-conference match on Sunday night. Last year, the Highlanders ended UCSB's season after upsetting the Gauchos 1-0 in the Big West Tournament First Round at Harder Stadium. After losing to Westmont, St. John's and UCR last season, UCSB has avenged all three of those losses to start the 2018 campaign. Carter Clemmensen punched in his second goal of the season while Faouzi Taieb and Migel Gomez also scored in the win. 

Portland Preview
A high-profile matchup awaits on Friday as the Gauchos travel to take on a Portland team that features two of the top players in the nation. Junior midfielder Rey Ortiz (Ranked No. 4 on Top Drawer's Top-100) and junior forward Benji Michel (Ranked No. 13) are both listed on the MAC Hermann Watch List and have combined to score all three of the Pilots' goals this season. Portland opened the year with a 1-1 draw against Sacramento State before defeating Syracuse 2-1, both at home. The Pilots are receiving votes in the latest United Soccer Coaches Poll, to rank as the No. 27 team in the country, and are ranked No. 3 in the West Region. Top Drawer Soccer lists the matchup as one of its "Top-5 Matches to Watch" over the weekend. Last season, the Gauchos grounded the Pilots with a 1-0 victory at Harder Stadium behind a second half goal from Ignacio Tellechea.

Stacking Up against Seattle
The road trip does not get any easier on Sunday with the Gauchos taking on Seattle, who was ranked No. 22 in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll, but dropped out of the rankings after a 4-2 loss in its opener at New Mexico. The Redhawks played a man down for most of the match after their top defender, Nathan Aune (Ranked No. 18 on Top Drawer's Top-100) was sent off with a red card in the 25th minute. Seattle plays Cal Poly on Friday, Aug. 31, so Aune figures to be back for the match against UCSB. The Redhawks also feature the No. 8 player in the country, according to Top Drawer, in midfielder Sergio Rivas. The Gauchos have a 2-0 advantage in the all-time series and have outscored Seattle 9-3 in those contests, including a 6-2 win in 2012. 

Vom Steeg Captures Career Win No. 250
Entering his 20th season at the helm of the UCSB soccer program, head coach Tim Vom Steeg needed just two wins to reach No. 250 for his career, and the Gauchos did not waste any time. With two convincing wins over the weekend, Vom Steeg reached the milestone and now boasts a career record of 250-113-46 (.668). "It was nice to get 250 on a night like tonight," Vom Steeg said on reaching the milestone after a 3-1 win over UC Riverside on Sunday. "I enjoyed the way our team played tonight and I liked our effort, so it's very rewarding. It is an incredible challenge to take a new group of players every single year - which we end up having to do quite a bit here at UCSB - and make it work. But for me, I'm hoping this year will be not 250, but 270. Our goal is to rack up as many wins as we can and keep this thing going."

Clemmensen Cleaning Up
Freshman forward Carter Clemmensen has lived up to the hype after a sensational start to his collegiate career. After earning nearly every prep accolade under the sun, including Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year, Clemmensen has continued to clean up in the award category after being named Big West Offensive Player of the Week and Top Drawer Player of the Week. The 6-foot-3, Brophy Prep product came off the bench in both matches and scored the game-winners in both. For what it's worth, Clemmensen also scored goals in the Gauchos' exhibition against Westmont and scrimmage against San Diego State. 

Poll Position
With a 2-0 start to the season, UCSB is back in familiar territory after receiving votes in the latest United Soccer Coaches Poll. The Gauchos garnered 17 total votes, putting them at No. 34 in the country, one slot behind Big West foe UC Irvine. In the Far West Region, UCSB is ranked No. 5, tops in the Big West, one spot ahead of UC Davis. After a year-long absence from the polls, the Gauchos are recognized for the first time since week nine of the 2016 season. The last time they were in the Top-25 was week five in 2016.

Top Praise from Top Drawer 
UCSB was recently mentioned by TopDrawerSoccer.Com as one of 14 teams named as NCAA Division I title contenders in 2018. The Gauchos also had two players recognized among its National Top-100 list, with Faouzi Taieb coming in at No. 55 and Rodney Michael at No. 79. Within the Big West, Top Drawer ranks six Gauchos in the Top 20 with Taieb at No. 2, Michael at No. 3, Ignacio Tellechea at No. 5, Carson Vom Steeg at No. 9, Alan Carrillo at No. 10 and Adrian Adames at No. 19. 

All in the Family
Carson Vom Steeg, a current USA youth international player, 2017 NCAA Champion at Stanford and son of UC Santa Barbara head coach Tim Vom Steeg, will return home and play for the Gauchos this fall. The second eldest of Tim Vom Steeg's four sons, Carson will carry on the family tradition as the third Vom Steeg to play for UCSB. He will follow in the footsteps of his older brother Justin, who led the Gauchos to the Round of 16 in the 2015 NCAA Tournament and is currently playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy, as well as his father/coach Tim, who was a four-year letterwinner from 1985-88. Carson played in 18 games as a freshman defender at Stanford and is currently a member of the US Men's National Team U20 player pool.

He's One to Watch
Junior defender Faouzi Taieb (Marseille, France/St. Francis Brooklyn) was one of 32 players named to the prestigious MAC Hermann Watch List, which is awarded annually to the most outstanding male and female players of the year. Before he has even played a game for UCSB, Taieb becomes the eighth Gaucho all-time to be named to the watch list joining Tyler Rosenlund (2005), Andy Iro (2006, 2007), Eric Avila (2007), Chris Pontius (2008), Sam Garza (2011), Ismalia Jome (2014) and Nick DePuy (2016). Taieb was a sensational defender the past two seasons for St. Francis Brooklyn, earning NEC Defensive Player of the Year accolades as a sophomore and NEC Rookie of the Year as a freshman.  

Preseason Poll
UCSB was tabbed to finish second in the Big West this season after the annual Preseason Coaches' Poll was released earlier this month. The Gauchos received 55 points and three first-place votes, coming a close second to reigning Big West Tournament champion Cal State Fullerton, who received 57 points and four first-place votes. CSUN (47) came in third, while UC Davis (40) was picked fourth and received the lone remaining first-place vote. UC Irvine (30), Sacramento State (23), UC Riverside (21) and Cal Poly (15) rounded out the rest of the poll. After being split into the North and South divisions for the past six seasons, the Big West will return to a single division for 2018 and beyond.

Preseason All-Conference Team Features Pair of Gauchos
Sophomore Rodney Michael, the 2017 Big West Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Big West selection, and junior Noah Billingsley, who recently made his debut with the New Zealand National Team, were both selected to the 2018 Big West Preseason All-Conference Team. Michael, a native of Freetown, Sierra Leone, paced the Gauchos last season with eight goals and four assists as a freshman and will look to lead the offense once again this fall. Billingsley, who earned the preseason honor for the second season in a row, recorded two goals and two assists last year and will continue to be a threat in the attacking third.

Need a Lyft?
Lyft, the fastest growing rideshare company in the U.S., announced earlier this month that it will become the first rideshare company to sponsor the UCSB athletic seasons from Fall 2018 through Fall 2021.The three-year partnership begins during this weekend's men's soccer game versus Westmont on Saturday, Aug. 18 at Harder Stadium and will feature an exclusive Lyft pick-up and drop-off area at the Stadium Road entrance. Giveaways, discounted rides and fun Gaucho-themed activities are some of the additional perks that Lyft passengers will experience during each athletic season.