Gauchos Travel to New Mexico and Utah Valley in Search of First Road Win

Photo by Eric Isaacs
Photo by Eric Isaacs

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The Schedule
Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 6:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (3-2-0) at New Mexico (2-3-0)
UNM Soccer Complex - Albuquerque, N.M.
All-time record vs. the Lobos: 4-7-1
Last meeting: Sept. 6, 2015 - UNM def. UCSB, 2-1
UCSB Form: W W L L W
NM Form: W L L W L

Friday, Sept. 14 at 6:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at Utah Valley (3-3-0)
Clyde Field - Orem, Utah
All-time record vs. the Wolverines: First Meeting
UCSB Form: W W L L W
UVU Form: W W L L L
Video: WAC Digital Network

Video Stream Available
Both Tuesday's match at New Mexico and Friday's match at Utah Valley will be available to view via a live video stream. will broadcast the UNM match while the WAC Digital Network will stream the match at UVU. 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. 

Last Week in Review
With just one match last week, the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team got back in the win column with a 1-0 shutout victory over Butler on Saturday night. Rodney Michael converted the game-winner in just the 6th minute, via a deflection off a Hunter Ashworth shot from 25 yards out, for his second score of the year. The Gauchos held on for the remaining 84 minutes with freshman keeper Ben Roach coming up clutch with a pair of second half saves. 

New Mexico Preview
The 12th all-time meeting between UCSB and New Mexico will take place this Tuesday as the Gauchos search for their first road win of the year. The Lobos are coming off a 2-1 loss in double overtime at No. 23 Tulsa to wrap-up a three-game road trip that saw them lose to CSUN 1-0 before throttling Cal State Fullerton 5-1. Both of the Lobos wins have come in dominant fashion, after opening the season with a 4-2 victory over No. 22 Seattle. UNM is led by freshman midfielder Omar Grey and sophomore forward Matt Puig, who both have three goals and an assist on the year. Defender Tom Smart leads the Lobos with three assists while keeper Ford Parker has 23 saves with eight goals allowed in five matches (1.56 GAA)

Scouting Utah Valley
The first all-time meeting between UCSB and Utah Valley is set to take place Friday against a Wolverines team that has lost three straight matches after winning three in-a-row to start the season. One of UVU's three wins came in a 2-1 effort over UC Irvine, while CSUN had its way with the Wolverines for a 6-1 victory. UVU most recently fell 1-0 against Memphis. Utah Valley is led by sophomore midfielder Zach Maas (3 g, 0a) and senior forward Austin Buxton (2g, 2a). Keeper Joseph Wheelwright has 13 saves and four goals allowed in five matches (0.89 GAA). 

On the Road Again
The Gauchos will be tested with a three-game road trip set to begin this week at New Mexico on Tuesday. After Friday's match at Utah Valley, UCSB will play Saint Mary's (Cal.) next Wednesday before returning home to face UCLA. Santa Barbara is a perfect 3-0 at Harder Stadium this year, while winless on the road in just two games. 

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 opening weekend, Vom Steeg reached the milestone. "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 last 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."

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 in August. 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.