UCSB Begins Big West Play Wednesday at Sac State; Host Fullerton on Saturday

Noah Billingsley (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Noah Billingsley (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

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The Schedule
Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 4:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (6-4-0) at Sacramento State (2-6-2)
Hornet Soccer Field - Sacramento, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Hornets: 14-4-4
Last Meeting: Oct. 25, 2017 - T, 0-0 (2OT)
UCSB Form: W L W W L
CSUS Form: T L L W L
Video: BigWest.TV

Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (6-4-0) vs. Cal State Fullerton (4-2-5)
Harder Stadium - Santa Barbara, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Titans: 32-26-3
Last Meeting: Sept. 28, 2017 - UCSB def. CSUF, 5-2
UCSB Form: W L W W L
CSF Form: L T T W W
Video: BigWest.TV

Video Stream Available
Both of this week's matchups, Wednesday late afternoon at Sacramento State and Saturday vs. Cal State Fullerton, 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 Zig Past the Zags
UCSB improved to 5-0 at home this season after cruising to a 2-1 victory over Gonzaga last Tuesday night.  Rodney Michael continued his sensational sophomore season with a goal and an assist while Faouzi Taieb also scored for the Gauchos. UCSB captured its sixth win of the season as a result, matching last year's win total. 

UCSB Shut Out at Cal Poly
Looking to break its string of two-game winning streaks followed by a loss, UCSB was unable to produce a goal in the first installment of the 2018 Blue-Green Rivalry at Cal Poly. In front of a sellout crowd of 11,075, the Mustangs scored the lone goal on a Diego Alonso strike that was deflected up and over Ben Roach in the 64th minute. The Gauchos had a handful of near opportunities but fell to 2-6-1 since 2010 at Alex G. Spanos Stadium. UCSB still owns a 46-20-10 advantage in the all-time series. 

Blue-Green Rivalry a Big Draw
Sunday evening's match at Cal Poly was the largest attended match in the NCAA this season and tied for the 14th largest in NCAA history with a crowd of 11,075. Considered one of the greatest rivalries in college soccer, UCSB and Cal Poly meetings account for 16 of the top 20 largest-attended (on campus) matches in NCAA history. 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. 

Opening Big
UCSB is unbeaten in its last six Big West Conference openers, having gone 5-0-1 during that stretch. The Gauchos open conference play on Wednesday at Sacramento State, who has won three straight Big West openers. 

Stacking Up against Sac State
UCSB owns a 14-4-4 all-time advantage in the series against the Hornets (2-6-2), who are coming off a 2-1 loss in overtime at No. 17 UC Davis. Last season in Sacramento, the Gauchos came away with a 2-1 victory in overtime thanks to a pair of goals, including the golden goal, from Rodney Michael. UCSB and Sac State played to a scoreless draw one week later at Harder Stadium. This year, the Hornets are led by freshman forward Benji Kikanovic and senior midfielder Dominic Scotti, who have five goals apiece. Sac State averages 1.50 goals per game while allowing 2.16 goals against. 

Clash with the Titans
The Gauchos will look to keep rolling at home on Saturday as Cal State Fullerton comes to town. The Titans are winless in their last 14 regular season games at Harder Stadium, and fell 5-2 to UCSB in last year's Big West opener. The Gauchos hold a 32-26-3 all-time series lead, including a 22-8-1 record against CSF in the Tim Vom Steeg era (since 1999). The Titans are coming off a 4-0 rout over San Francisco and are 4-2-5 on the year. They are led by senior forward Samuel Goni and sophomore midfielder Christian Pinzon, who have three goals apiece, while senior Ross McPhie has a pair of goals to go with three assists. Fullerton averages 1.36 goals a game while allowing just 1.06 goals against. 

Home Sweet Harder
UCSB has had a history of success playing at Harder Stadium and this season is no different as the Gauchos are 5-0 at home and 1-4 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 .726 winning percentage (143-46-25) all-time in the Tim Vom Steeg era (since 1999).

RPI Update
After a tough loss at Cal Poly, the Gauchos slide from No. 30 to No. 40 in the latest RPI rankings. 7-1-2 UC Davis, now ranked No. 16 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll, rank No. 14 in the RPI. UC Irvine (No. 54), CSUN (No. 74), Cal State Fullerton (No. 83) and Cal Poly (No. 96) are the other Big West programs in the Top-100. 

In the Cards
After accumulating five yellow cards, standout defender Hunter Ashworth will miss the Big West opener at Sacramento State on Wednesday afternoon. Freshman keeper Ben Roach will also be out on Wednesday after receiving a red card in the final minute of Sunday's match at Cal Poly. Despite losing two of its top defenders, the Gauchos will be able to plug in 2017 All-Freshman keeper Alan Carrillo in goal to preserve a strong defensive unit. 

Making Rodney Moves
After a three-point game, with a goal and an assist against Gonzaga on Tuesday, sophomore forward Rodney Michael extended his team lead with six goals this season, which ranks tied for first in the Big West. After a two-goal performance in a 3-1 win over then No. 15 UCLA earlier in the year, Michael earned his second career Big West Offensive Player of the Week award and landed on Top Drawer Soccer's Team of the Week. 

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.