Sept. 23, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008 at 4:30 p.m. (PT)
No. 16 UC Santa Barbara (4-3-0) at No. 10 Indiana (4-1-2)
Jerry Yeagley Field at Bill Armstrong Stadium
Harder was Hoppin'
UC Santa Barbara hosted the largest crowd in the NCAA so far this season when over 7,000 fans showed up last Sunday to watch the match vs. top-ranked Wake Forest. The 7,408 attendees who filled Harder Stadium for the inaugural Challenge Cup bested the 6,102 that saw Clemson play South Carolina.
A Long Way Down
With three losses in the past four games, UC Santa Barbara is feeling the repercussions in the latest polls. The Gauchos' highest ranking two weeks ago was sixth but now they top out at No. 16 by Top Drawer. UCSB is now ranked No. 22 in both College Soccer News and the Soccer Times and received votes in the latest NSCAA poll. UCSB remains out of the Top-25 in Soccer America's poll after being ranked 10th two weeks ago. UCSB also dropped two more slots in the NSCAA Far West poll, where the Gauchos are now ranked sixth.
Challenging the Champs
Wake Forest won the inaugural Santa Barbara Challenge Cup with a 6-2 victory on Sunday in a match-up of the last two NCAA champions. The six goals were the most UCSB has allowed in 10 seasons with Tim Vom Steeg as coach and it also marked the team's worst home loss under Vom Steeg. Next year's Challenge Cup contest has already been mapped out when UCSB hosts this week's opponent, Indiana at Harder Stadium.
It's been nearly a decade since UCSB has gotten off to this slow of a start. The Gauchos have dropped three of their first seven games this season for the first time since 2000. That team, the only UCSB squad to post a losing record in Vom Steeg's tenure, started the year 3-6-0 and suffered through five consecutive defeats after beginning the season 3-1-0.
Safe at Home
The loss to Wake Forest ended Santa Barbara's 13-game unbeaten streak at Harder Stadium and was the Gauchos' first loss at home since Sept. 2, 2007. Despite the defeat, Harder Stadium has been an extremely friendly place for the Gauchos to play under Vom Steeg. Since the start of the 2005 season, UCSB is 30-5-5 at home. Vom Steeg has guided the Gauchos to an impressive 74-17-9 record at home, including a perfect 10-0-0 mark in 2002.
Points for Pontius
After scoring three goals in the Gauchos' two games last week, senior forward Chris Pontius was named to Top Drawer's Team of the Week, a national honor list composed of the top collegiate players from the previous week. Pontius scored two goals in last Thursday's 4-2 win over Evansville and netted a goal in the loss to Wake Forest, giving him a team-leading six this season. On the Missouri Athletic Club (M.A.C.) Hermann Trophy watch list, Pontius represents the fourth consecutive Gaucho to make the list. The award, considered college soccer's most prestigious trophy, is presented to the nation's top NCAA Division I player. One of the team's captains, Pontius was also named as a Third-Team Preseason All-America by College Soccer News. He leads the team with 13 points - six goals and an assist - which ties him for 17th in the country. He is also second in the Big West in goals and points per game.
Seeing more action lately, and rightfully so, has been junior Martin Hedevag, who has started the Gauchos' past two games as a defender, lending more size to the squad's back line. Hedevag scored his second goal of the season - matching his entire total from a year ago - in the victory over Evansville. The native of Gothenburg, Sweden is second on the team with six points. He made his first career start against Rutgers after tallying his first goal of the year in the victory over LMU. That was Hedevag's third career goal as a Gaucho, all coming in his first four shots. Last year he scored only two goals on three shots.
UCSB has made its way into some of the top NCAA rankings based on their six goals scored in two games last week. The Gauchos are now tied for 15th in the nation in goals per game with 2.14, having found the net a total of 15 times. Senior forward Chris Pontius is tied for 15th in the nation with 0.86 goals per game while freshman midfielder Bryan Dominguez has averaged 0.57 assists per game, good for a tie at 22nd in the country. Dominguez and Danny Barrera were named to College Soccer News' Top 100 Freshmen to Watch
The last time UCSB and Indiana met was in the 2004 NCAA title game when the Hoosiers won in a penalty kick shootout. After playing through regulation and two overtimes deadlocked at 1-1, the Hoosiers defeated UCSB 3-2 in penalty kicks. That helped avenge a 1-0, double overtime loss to the Gauchos earlier in the season when the two teams met at the Lobo Classic in New Mexico. Indiana is ranked No. 10 by Soccer America, 12th by College Soccer News and Soccer Times, No. 14 by the NSCAA and 18 by Top Drawer. The Hoosiers are led by junior midfielder Eric Alexander, who just captured Big 10 Offensive Player of the Week honors. Alexander has two goals and two assists while freshman Will Bruin also has a pair of goals. Senior goalie Chay Cain has three shutouts this season and 15 saves in seven games with a goal against average of 1.07. The Hoosiers hold a 2-1-0 all-time record against UCSB.
Kaveny, Cintas Out for Year
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 Gauchos' 4-0 exhibition win over Westmont while Cintas broke his left foot during practice. Each is expected to undergo surgery, costing them the 2008 campaign.
Several newcomers to the Gaucho soccer program have already made an impact this season. UCSB has started as many as five freshman in a game (Bryan Dominguez, Peter McGlynn, Luis Silva, Trond Helge Takset and Michael Tetteh) with four others (Danny Barrera, Christian Dahlskog, David Ponce and Tim Pontius) seeing significant minutes.
The L Word
Losing consecutive games is a rare thing for Santa Barbara. The back-to-back losses the team suffered to Rutgers and Columbia occurred for only the eighth time in the 10 seasons Vom Steeg has been UCSB's head coach. It is the first losing streak the Gauchos have had since Sept. 23-27, 2006. This is only the fourth time in eight years that a Vom Steeg-coached UCSB team has lost at least two games in a row, whereas the other four sets of consecutive defeats occurred in Vom Steeg's first two seasons coaching the Gauchos (1999-2000).
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.
Large and In Charge
UCSB welcomed 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 will be featured on Fox Soccer Channel on Oct. 17 when the Gauchos travel to Cal Poly.
KCSB 91.9 FM will broadcast 10 straight matches beginning with the Oct. 1 contest at UCLA. The games can also be heard streaming online live at www.kcsb.org.