Gauchos Round Out Road Trip at No. 17 Saint Mary’s; Host No. 23 UCLA Saturday Night

Rodney Michael (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Rodney Michael (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

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The Schedule
Wednesday Sept. 19 at 4:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (4-2-0) at No. 17 St. Mary's (7-0-0)
Saint Mary's Stadium - Moraga, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Gaels: 7-4-1
Last meeting: Aug. 25, 2017 - T, 0-0 (2OT)
UCSB Form: W L L W W
SMC Form: W W W W W

Live Stats

Saturday, Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (4-2-0) vs. No. 23 UCLA (4-2-0)
Harder Stadium - Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Bruins: 5-34-4
Last Meeting: Sept. 17, 2016 - UCLA def. UCSB, 2-1 (OT) 
UCSB Form: W L L W W
UCLA Form: W L W W L

Live Stats

Video Stream Available
Wednesday's match at Saint Mary's will be available to view via a live video stream through As always, Saturday's home match will be broadcast through BigWest.TV with Gerry Fall, the Voice of the Gauchos, 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. Also, this Saturday, visit the College Cup table at Harder Stadium and receive free admission to the UCLA match with the purchase of an all session ticket!

Gauchos Rally for First Road Win at New Mexico
UCSB picked up its first road win of the season last Tuesday, erasing a 1-0 first half deficit to top the Lobos 2-1. Thibault Candia was the catalyst in the victory, assisting on both of the Gauchos' second half goals, just five minutes apart. Junior defender Faouzi Taieb headed in the equalizer off a Candia corner in the 48th minute, for his second score of the season, while Rodney Michael produced his second straight game-winner, and third goal of the year, with a 53rd minute strike. 

Utah Valley Match Cancelled
UCSB's second match on its current three-game road trip, scheduled for last Friday at Utah Valley, was cancelled due to poor air quality after a handful of fires broke out in the area. The game will not be made up. 

Scouting Saint Mary's
The Gauchos conclude their current road trip and begin a challenging stretch in the schedule with a match at undefeated No. 17 St. Mary's (7-0-0). The Gaels lead the nation in a handful of categories including scoring offense (3.57 goals per game), total goals (25) and total points (68) while also ranking in the top-10 in shutout percentage (0.714) and goals against average (0.562). The high-octane St. Mary's offense has outscored its opponents 25-4 this season, with five shutouts and six of its seven victories coming by two goals or more. The Gaels, however, are coming off a game where they allowed three goals to UC Riverside before escaping with a 4-3 win in double overtime. Junior forward Jake Rudel leads SMC with seven goals on the year, to rank sixth in the nation, while fellow junior forward Anders Engebretsen is close behind with six. Keeper Remi Prieur has 24 saves with just four goals allowed.

UCSB-UCLA Rivalry Revisited
After meeting every season since 2008, UCSB and UCLA did not square off in 2017, but the rivalry will be revisited on Saturday when the No. 23 Bruins come to Harder Stadium. Despite UCLA holding a 34-5-4 advantage in the all-time series, many of the Gauchos' biggest wins have come at the expense of the Bruins, including the 2006 National Championship game, 2010's meeting that saw an NCAA record crowd of 15,896 fans and UCSB's first-ever road win at UCLA in 2015. In the Tim Vom Steeg era (since 1999), UCSB is 3-9-3 against the Bruins with a 3-5-2 mark since the 2006 title game.

Scouting the Bruins
UCLA is off to a 4-2 start in the 2018 campaign and is coming off a 2-1 loss to CSUN on Sunday. Prior to that loss, the Bruins picked up a pair of wins against Omaha, 2-1, and at Maryland, 1-0. UCLA has also beaten Coastal Carolina and San Diego while falling to San Francisco. The Bruins are led offensively by freshman midfielder Matt Hundley (3 g, 3 a) and junior forward Mohammed Kamara (4 g, 0 a). UCLA has outscored its opponents 10-4 this year, averaging 1.67 goals per game and 14.0 shots per game while holding opponents to 0.67 goals per game. 

Home Sweet Harder
UCSB has had a history of success playing at Harder Stadium and this season is no different as the Gauchos are 3-0 at home and 1-2 on the road. Last season, UCSB went unbeaten in eight of its 10 home matches during the regular season (4-2-4) and boasts a .724 winning percentage (141-46-25) all-time in the Tim Vom Steeg era (since 1999).

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.

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."

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.