March 21, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Poised to make a sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and defend the program's first national championship, the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team released its schedule for the 2007 season Wednesday. After winning 11 of their final 12 games in 2006, culminating in a 2-1 victory over UCLA in the championship match and a No. 1 final national ranking, the Gauchos' slate is highlighted with three games against teams who made last year's tournament field.
UCSB will once again open 2007 with a preseason scrimmage against cross-town rival Westmont, looking to capture a seventh straight Bryant & Sons Cup Saturday, August 25. The Gauchos will celebrate their 2006 national title with a ring presentation ceremony before the game.
For the third time in the last four years Santa Barbara will open the regular season on the road when the Gauchos take on Pac-10 power Stanford Friday, September 1. UCSB returns to Harder Stadium two days later for two straight home matches with Gonzaga September 3 and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee September 7.
The Gauchos hit the road again in week two, heading to Albuquerque for the University of New Mexico Tournament September 14-16, where they will face two teams that finished 2006 with an RPI of 40 or better. UCSB will square off with Southern Methodist University for the first time since defeating the top-ranked and third-seeded Mustangs 3-1 on their home field in the second round of last year's tourney and then face the host Lobos, the 2005 National Runners-Up on the tournament's final day.
UCSB will then return home to host back-to-back Ivy League opponents in Columbia and defending league champion Harvard to wrap up their non-conference slate. The Gauchos' September 21 bout with the Lions will mark the return of former assistant coach Leo Chappel to Harder Stadium for the first time since he was named head coach at Columbia in February 2006. The former NSCAA Regional Assistant Coach of the Year, Chappel spent five successful seasons on the Santa Barbara staff and helped guide the program to a school-record 21 wins and first-ever College Cup appearance in 2004. The game is also scheduled to be broadcast live nationally by the Fox Soccer Channel in its NSCAA College Match of the Week.
The Gauchos will open Big West Conference play against first-year member UC Davis Saturday, September 29, looking to avenge a 1-0 loss at the hands of the Aggies in Davis, Calif. last season. UCSB will then come home for two straight, hosting UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton before taking on rival Cal State Northridge in the first of two meetings Wednesday, October 10 at Matador Field. CSUN will visit Harder Stadium Saturday, October 27, as the two teams will square off in a CSTV nationally televised match in Santa Barbara for the third year in a row. The Gauchos have won four of the last six Big West titles, while the Matadors have claimed the other two.
Welcoming back all but five letterwinners from last year's national championship squad, including All-Americans Andy Iro and Eric Avila, UCSB finishes the regular season with eight Big West matches, closing the schedule at home against UC Riverside November 17.
Santa Barbara's 2007 schedule features games against three teams that finished the 2006 season ranked in the nation's Top 25 after qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.
The Gauchos, who have already played three matches in preparation for 2007 this spring, will play in a benefit match at Cal State Bakersfield Friday, April 27th before concluding their spring schedule Tuesday, May 1 with a scrimmage against Mexico's Necaxa Under-21 squad at Harder Stadium. Kickoff for both contests is slated for 7:00 p.m. A portion of the proceeds of UCSB's game with the Roadrunners will benefit the American Cancer Society.