July 26, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - With the start of the 2006 season less than a month away, the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team finds itself in familiar territory after receiving a preseason national ranking of No. 21 in College Soccer New's Top-30 poll. The Gauchos, who return a multitude of talent from last year's squad, will also usher in a recruiting class that was ranked No. 22 by CSN.
Joining Santa Barbara representing the Big West Conference in the poll is Cal State Northridge after receiving a No. 23 preseason ranking.
This year's No. 21 ranking comes after UCSB was tabbed seventh a year ago, the highest preseason ranking in program history. The Gauchos return 15 letterwinners and seven starters from their 2005 squad that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, including All-American Andy Iro and Big West Freshman of the Year Eric Avila. Senior co-captain Bryan Bryne (Second Team All-Big West) will be returning for another year of eligibility and Tyler Rosenlund (First Team All-Big West) will be back patrolling the midfield. Kyle Reynish (Second Team All-Big West) spent every minute in goal for the Gauchos in 2005 and will be between the pipes again this season.
Joining the returning players will be one of the most talented recruiting classes the program has ever seen. In all, UCSB welcomes 14 fresh faces this season, including a junior national team member, three regional standouts and two all-state performers.
Finishing 2005 with a No. 23 national ranking, the UCSB's 2006 slate is highlighted with six matches against teams who made the 2005 NCAA Tournament field. They will face a total of five teams that were ranked in this year's poll. 2005 Big West Co-Coach of the Year Tim Vom Steeg and assistant coaches Greg Wilson and Neil Jones are primed and ready to guide the Gauchos back to the NCAA Championship stage.
UCSB begins the 2006 campaign with a preseason scrimmage against cross-town rival Westmont in hopes of capturing a sixth-straight Bryant & Sons Cup on August 19th. The Gauchos then hit the road to open the season in Charlottesville to take part in the University of Virginia's tournament, squaring off against Akron and the Cavaliers, both of whom were seeded teams in last year's NCAA Tournament.