UCSB Welcomes Gonzaga to Harder Tuesday Night; Clash at Cal Poly Sunday

Photo by Bill Truong
Photo by Bill Truong

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The Schedule
Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (5-3-0) vs. Gonzaga (2-5-2)
Harder Stadium - Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Bulldogs: 2-4-1
Last Meeting: Sept. 6, 2013 - GU def. UCSB, 2-0
UCSB Form: L W W L W
GU Form: L W L L W
Video: BigWest.TV

Sunday, Sept. 30 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (5-3-0) at Cal Poly (3-4-1)
Alex G. Spanos Stadium - San Luis Obispo, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Mustangs: 46-19-10
Last Meeting: Oct. 28, 2017 - CP def. UCSB, 4-1
UCSB Form: L W W L W
CP Form: L L W L W
Video: BigWest.TV

Video Stream Available
Both of this week's matchups, Tuesday night vs. Gonzaga and Sunday at Cal Poly, will be available to stream through BigWest.TV. As always, you can watch all of the UCSB home broadcasts 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. 

Gauchos Drop Double OT Heartbreaker at Saint Mary's
The UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team almost escaped with a scoreless draw at undefeated No. 17 Saint Mary's last Wednesday before a golden goal in the 107th minute gave the Gaels a 1-0 victory. Ben Roach was phenomenal in goal for the Gauchos, racking up a career-high nine saves to keep UCSB, who was outshot 20-12, in the mix. 

UCSB Upsets No. 15 UCLA
The Gauchos returned from their two-week road trip to host No. 15 UCLA on Saturday and took down the Bruins with a flurry of goals in the first half. After UCLA scored in just the 6th minute of the match, UCSB responded with three goals in a six-minute stretch just 10 minutes later. Rodney Michael scored twice in the match and a UCLA own goal helped the Gauchos to a 3-1 victory. UCSB has now won two of its past three meetings with the Bruins and improves to 4-5-2 against UCLA since the 2006 NCAA Championship. 

Packed House
Saturday night saw a crowd of 5,235 at Harder Stadium, good for the fifth largest attendance in the NCAA this season. The all-time NCAA attendance record was set between UCSB and UCLA back in 2010 when a crowd of 15,896 was on hand. 

Zigging against the Zags
The Gauchos have a quick turnaround with a matchup against Gonzaga on Tuesday night. The Bulldogs are coming off a 2-1 win over Sacramento State and have one other win on the year against Cal State Bakersfield. Early in the season, Gonzaga played to a scoreless draw with Cal Poly and more recently lost 3-0 to UC Davis. The Bulldogs are led by freshman forward Demitrius Kigeya (3 goals) and junior midfielder Quinn Liebmann (1g, 2a). As a team, the Zags have been outscored by opponents 21-8, an average of 0.89 goals per game while allowing its opponents a 2.33 goals per game average. 

Clash with Cal Poly
In a rare non-conference meeting, UCSB heads up north to kick-off the 2018 edition of the Blue-Green Rivalry. Historically, the Gauchos have dominated the all-time series 46-19-10, however UCSB is just 5-6-5 against the Mustangs since 2010 and just 2-5-1 at Alex G. Spanos Stadium. Last season, UCSB and Cal Poly played to a scoreless draw at Harder Stadium before the Gauchos fell 4-1 to the Mustangs on the road. 

Scouting the Mustangs
Cal Poly is coming off a 2-0 win over Westmont to improve to 3-4-1 on the year. The Mustangs and Gauchos have played a handful of like opponents this season including Seattle (CP lost 2-1/UCSB lost 2-0), Portland (CP lost 2-1/UCSB lost 1-0), Saint Mary's (CP lost 4-0/UCSB lost 1-0 (2OT)), Westmont (CP won 2-0/UCSB won 7-0) and Gonzaga (CP tied 0-0/UCSB TBD). The Mustangs are led by senior forward Sean Goode (3g, 1a) and sophomore midfielder Emmanuel Perez (2g, 2a) and have been outscored by opponents 11-10, an average of 1.25 goals per game while allowing 1.38. 

Blue-Green Rivalry a Big Draw
Considered one of the greatest rivalries in college soccer, UCSB and Cal Poly meetings account for 15 of the top 19 largest-attended (on campus) matches in NCAA history. Last season, for the first time since 2008, Cal Poly outdrew the Gauchos at Alex G. Spanos Stadium with a crowd of 11,075 compared to 10,293. The highest-attended game ever between the two teams took place at Harder Stadium on Oct. 24, 2015 with a crowd of 14,919, the second-highest in NCAA on-campus history. 

Making Rodney Moves
Sophomore Rodney Michael earned his second career Big West Offensive Player of the Week honor after scoring two goals to lead the Gauchos to a 3-1 victory over No. 15 UCLA on Saturday. The fleet-footed forward helped UCSB answer back quickly after an early UCLA goal with the equalizer in the 16th minute. Michael fielded a long ball over the top from Axel Mendez, sprinted past his defender and finished across his body to the left corner of the goal to tie the game. With a 2-1 lead moments later, Michael added yet another goal - the Gauchos' third in a six-minute span - after redirecting a Faouzi Taieb header in the box off a Thibault Candia corner kick. The two goals give the Freetown, Sierra Leone native five on the year to lead UCSB while ranking third in the Big West.

RPI Update
UCSB comes in at No. 30 in the latest RPI rankings released on Monday morning. The Gauchos' ranking is good for tops in the Big West, one spot ahead of UC Davis. UC Irvine (No. 63), CSUN (No. 65), Cal State Fullerton (No. 70) are the other Big West programs in the Top-100. 

Home Sweet Harder
UCSB has had a history of success playing at Harder Stadium and this season is no different as the Gauchos are 4-0 at home and 1-3 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 .725 winning percentage (142-46-25) 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.