Sept. 4, 2006
This Week's Schedule
Tuesday, September 5, 2006
No. 12 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Cal Poly Mustangs
Harder Stadium Kickoff 7:00 p.m.
Friday, September 8, 2006
No. 12 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. No. 18 Illinois-Chicago Flames
Harder Stadium Kickoff 7:30 p.m.
UCSB Outlasts San Diego State
UC Santa Barbara defeated No. 21 San Diego State 1-0 to win its home opener, improving to 2-1-0 overall on Saturday night at Harder Stadium. After a scoreless first half in which the Gauchos recorded five shots to the Aztecs' four, UCSB broke through with the game-winner in the 56th minute. Pushing up from his defensive position along the left sideline, junior Andy Iro collected a pass from freshman David Walker just over the midfield stripe, beat a SDSU defender and laid the ball off for a slashing Bongomin Otii. The freshman forward slid in and poked a shot past the diving keeper into the right side of the goal, for the final 1-0 advantage. The single strike would prove to be enough for Kyle Reynish and the Gaucho defense, as they were able to weather 10 shots from the Aztecs with five coming on frame. The senior keeper made five saves en route to his second complete game shutout of the year.
Taming the Mustangs
UCSB begins its quest to recapture the Big West Conference crown Tuesday night when they host Central Coast rival Cal Poly. The Gauchos will get a crack at the Mustangs a day earlier as the match, originally schedule for Wednesday, September 6, has been changed to Tuesday, September 5, due to a scheduling mix-up.
Santa Barbara leads the all-time series with San Luis Obispo 35-12-2 and has dominated Poly as of late. The Gauchos have won the previous 10 meetings, outscoring the Mustangs 31-6 over that span. Last season, UCSB defeated Cal Poly 3-1 in San Luis Obispo September 28 on a pair of goals by Ivan Becerra and one from Eric Avila. The Gauchos then shutout the Mustangs 2-0 at Harder Stadium October 22 as Becerra and Andy Iro found the net.
Cal Poly enters Tuesday's match up with a 1-1-1 record after defeating Saint Mary's 1-0 in double overtime on Saturday. Jose Garcia, Barrett Park and Jeff Meyer Jr. have all recorded a goal for the Mustangs this season and Julian Alvarez leads the squad with a pair of assists.
Putting Out the Flames
After the clash with the Mustangs, Santa Barbara will welcome the University of Illinois at Chicago to Harder Stadium. Friday night's contest will mark just the second-ever meeting between the two programs, with the Gauchos holding a one-game series advantage. Santa Barbara defeated Illinois-Chicago 2-0 during the 2001 UCSB Kappa Klassic after late goals from Rob Friend and Matt Bly.
The Flames enter Friday's match with a 3-0-1 record after posting victories over the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Bradley over the weekend. Ranked No. 18 in this week's Soccer America Top 25 poll for the first time since 2001, UIC is led by junior midfielder Cesar Zambrano who has tallied two goals and an assist this season.
Friday night's contest with Illinois-Chicago will follow the women's game with Wisconsin, as the two programs will play back-to-back in a home doubleheader for the first time during the regular season. The Gaucho women will take on the Badgers in their home opener at 5:00 p.m., followed by the men's match against the Flames slated for 7:30 p.m. Gaucho fans will also have the opportunity to watch both the men and women play on the same night on Friday, September 15 when the men welcome Loyola Marymount to Harder Stadium after the women square off with Arizona State.
Getting Back To the Top
Last year at this time, UCSB opened Big West play as the defending conference champions. After finishing second to Cal State Northridge in 2005, the Gauchos kick off league competition Tuesday night with a different goal in mind: reclaiming what they lost a year ago. Winners of three of the last five conference titles, Santa Barbara has been the team to beat since the Big West reinstated men's soccer in 2001, posting a combined record of 38-8-4. Last year the Gauchos finished 7-1-2 in league play and had a total of nine players named to all-conference teams. Picked by the league's coaches to hoist the trophy again in 2006, UCSB's run at another Big West crown and a fifth consecutive postseason berth begins when Cal Poly comes to Harder Stadium Tuesday night.
The Rankings Game
With the long holiday weekend and early game this week, only one national poll had come out at the time of this release. After Friday's 1-0 win over No. 21 San Diego State, UCSB comes in at No. 12 in this week's Soccer America Top 25 poll, up one spot from the No. 13 position it held last week. The Gauchos who were ranked as high as No. 9 entering competition in week two, will have to wait to see where they stand in other national polls this week.
The trend UCSB set in week one continued in their victory over San Diego State. Entering Friday's match with the 21st-ranked Aztecs, the Gauchos' three goals in the run of play were scored by three different players with three different guys picking up the assists. Tino Nuñez, Eric Avila and Bongomin Otti all found the net during the University of Virginia Soccer Classic, with Chris Pontius, Bryan Byrne and Nick Perera registering assists, respectively. The past weekend, head coach Tim Vom Steeg saw someone else step up yet again against SDSU. Although Otii scored the game-winner, Andy Iro picked up the assist, his first of the year. With a number of guys that can score the ball and even more capable of setting the table, the Gaucho offense should continue to give opponents fits all season.
On the topic of Andy Iro, the Preseason All-American continued to show why he is a viable Hermann Trophy Candidate in 2006, helping guide the Gauchos to a 1-0 victory over visiting San Diego State. Although freshman forward Bongomin Otii was credited with the game-winning goal, it is undeniable that the junior team captain deserves the credit for developing the play. Sensing that his team needed a lift offensively, Iro picked just the right moment to attack and made it count, beating his man and finding Otii with a perfect leave for the score. In addition to his outstanding individual effort offensively, Iro was tremendous on the defensive side of the ball once again. With the Liverpool, native in the middle, the UCSB defense limited the Aztecs to just five shots on goal. After SDSU had several decent scoring opportunities early in the match, the defense tightened up and kept the ball out of the Gaucho backfield for the majority of the second half.
As Good As He Ever Was
As is the case virtually every time UCSB takes the field, senior goalkeeper Kyle Reynish had another impressive showing against No. 21 San Diego State. Reynish made saves on all five of the Aztecs' shots on goal in the match and shutout an Aztec offense that was averaging two goals per game entering Friday's contest. In his three starts this season, the Valencia, Calif. native has a total of 15 saves and sports a tidy .938 save percentage. The shutout over SDSU was the second of the season for Reynish after he blanked No. 7 Akron in in a 5-0 win in week one. In only his second year as the Gauchos' starting keeper, he now has a total of 14 shutouts in his career. Reynish has allowed just one goal this season--in the 47th minute against No. 3 Virginia August 27--in 270 minutes of play.
Otii Continues To Provide Offense
Freshman forward Bongomin Otii has turned heads since the minute he set foot on the UCSB campus and he continued to show his ability to find the net in the win over San Diego State. After scoring twice on four shots in his first game wearing the blue and gold, the Denver native scored UCSB's only goal in the 1-0 win Friday night. Once Andy Iro dribbled down the middle of the field in the 56th minute, he followed, slashing into the box from the left wing. Otii finished Iro's pass, poking the ball past the diving keeper on the right side of the net hard and low for what proved to be the game-winner. After Friday's goal, Otii now leads Santa Barbara with three goals on the young season. The Gauchos, who have produced the Big West Conference Freshman of the Year three of the last four years, seem to have found another gem this season in Otii.
Another freshman that has stepped up and played well for the Gauchos so far in 2006 is midfielder David Walker. After coming off the bench in UCSB's season opener against Akron, Walker has been in the starting lineup in the Gauchos' last two contests against Virginia and San Diego State. Starting in place of 2005 First Team All-Big West selection Tyler Rosenlund, who is rehabilitating an injury and has yet to see action this year, Walker has come in and made the most of his opportunity. The Orange, Calif. native picked up his first career assist in the match with the Aztecs, feeding the ball to Andy Iro on UCSB's only scoring play of the evening.