New-Look Gauchos, Ranked 9th, Open Season Friday vs. Air Force
Aug. 27, 2008
Friday, August 25, 2008 at 7:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Air Force
at UCSB's Harder Stadium
Friday, September 5, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Kentucky
at UCSB's Harder Stadium
Broadcast Live on Fox Soccer Channel
First Things First
UC Santa Barbara was picked by the Big West coaches to capture its league-record sixth Big West title, claiming six first-place votes. Over the past seven seasons UCSB has won five league titles and qualified for postseason play six times. The Gauchos open the season ranked No. 9 by College Soccer News, No. 10 by Soccer Times, No. 11 by Top Drawer, No. 21 by the NSCAA and No. 22 by Soccer America.
Senior forward Chris Pontius was named to the Missouri Athletic Club (M.A.C.) Hermann Trophy watch list, the fourth consecutive season a Gaucho has made the list. The award, considered college soccer's most prestigious trophy, is presented to the nation's top NCAA Division I player. Pontius, one of the team's captains, was also named as a Third-Team Preseason All-America by College Soccer News. He scored two of the Gauchos' four goals in their exhibition win over Westmont last week.
Large and In Charge
UCSB welcomes one of its most talented and largest recruiting classes this season. College Soccer News ranked the Gaucho incoming contingent sixth in the nation and tops on the West Coast. A total of 17 new players will don the blue and gold in 2008.
UCSB suffered a big blow when it found out that it would be without both senior defender Kyle Kaveny and junior midfielder C.J. Cintas for the entire season. Kaveny suffered a fractured left ankle in the 4-0 win over Westmont while Cintas broke his left foot during practice. Each is expected to undergo surgery, costing them the 2008 campaign. Freshman Danny Barrera and sophomore Bongomin Otii are both nursing knee injuries. Barrera could play as early as the Kentucky game while Otii isn't expected back until mid-September.
Boxall the Olympian
Sophomore defender Michael Boxall recently returned from Beijing, China after representing his home country of New Zealand in the Olympic Games. Boxall started two of the three group play matches for the Oly-Whites, who were competing in their first-ever Olympics. New Zealand went 0-2-1, tying China and falling to Belgium and Brazil.
Wrapping up Westmont
For the eighth straight time, UCSB defeated Westmont 46th Annual Bryant and Sons Cup match. Pontius scored two goals while junior defender Jon Curry had a goal and an assist and freshman midfielder Bryan Dominguez had a pair of assists. Santa Barbara played a man down for most of the match after senior co-captain Alfonso Motagalvan received a red card 14 minutes into the game. Boxall also received a red card at the 54-minute mark. Both are eligible to play in the season opener since the game was an exhibition.
Vs. Air Force
The Gauchos and the Falcons are squaring off for only the third time in history, with UCSB winless in the first two matches, going 0-1-1 vs. Air Force. The Falcons finished 5-12-1 a season ago and of the seven players they've lost, six were starters. Their biggest loss was undoubtedly goalkeeper Brian Guyette, a first-team Mountain Pacific Sports Federation selection. Air Force does return 17 players, five of whom were starters last season. Defenders Jason Dall, a senior, and Kevin Rosser and Aaron Eshkenazi, both juniors, will help ease the loss of Guyette. Also returning is 6-foot-6 junior Steven Noller, who tallied five points in 2006 before sitting out last season. Junior Josh Rhynard and sophomore Kyle Schafer, both forwards, also return after each scored five points a year ago.
Two of the Gauchos' soccer games will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel. The first game to be aired will be September 5 at Harder Stadium vs. Kentucky. The second will be a Big West battle on Oct. 17 as the Gauchos travel to Cal Poly.
Currently, five of the Gauchos' first eight games will be broadcast on KCSB with more certain to be added to the schedule. Games can be heard on 91.9 FM or streaming online at www.kcsb.org.
This season presents one of UCSB's most daunting schedules. Following three straight road games, the Gauchos host top-ranked Wake Forest on September 21 in a battle of the past two NCAA champions. The Gauchos will then travel to face No. 7 Indiana on Sept. 27, the team that defeated UCSB in a penalty-kick shootout in the 2004 national championship game. On Oct. 1, the Gauchos will end non-conference play at No. 14 UCLA, the team UCSB defeated for the 2006 title.