Sept. 27, 2005
This Week's Schedule
Wednesday, September 28
No. 19 UC Santa Barbara (4-2-1) vs. Cal Poly (4-4-0)
Cal Poly's Mustang Stadium Kickoff 7:00 p.m.
Still On Top
19th-ranked UCSB remains on top of the Big West Conference Standings this week after defeating UC Riverside 4-0 on September 18. There have been no other conference games played to this point, so the Gauchos and their 1-0 BWC record have sole possession of the top spot re-entering league play against Cal Poly. Starting out 2005 atop the Big West standings, Santa Barbara picked up where they left off a year ago, winning the conference crown for the third time in four years. UCSB has now held at least a share of the conference lead since finishing second in 2003.
Cal Poly Game Capsule
UCSB travels to San Luis Obispo to face their central coast rivals Cal Poly Wednesday night, September 28th. The Gauchos have historically controlled the all-time series and hold a 33-12-2 record against the Mustangs. Santa Barbara swept both meetings with Cal Poly in 2004, winning 5-1 on October 9 at Mustang Stadium and then following that effort with a 2-0 victory on October 24 at Harder Stadium. UCSB has won its last eight meetings with the Mustangs and outscored them 26-5 overall in Big West play.
The Mustangs enter Wednesday's match with a 4-4-0 record after a pair of wins last weekend over Sacramento State (4-1) and San Jose State (2-1). Cal Poly has netted a total of 13 goals this season and has an average of 1.62 goals per game, which ranks third in the Big West. Freshman Marcus Griffin paces the squad with three goals and six points. Sophomore Jeremy Coupe has played all 720 minutes between the pipes and currently sports a 1.38 goals against average, holding opponents to a single goal in all four of the Mustang's victories.
This week 19th-ranked UCSB looks to rebound after a tough 2-1 loss to Loyola Marymount Sunday in Los Angeles. After defeating Alabama A&M 3-1 last Friday, the then 10th-ranked Gauchos had their five game unbeaten streak snapped when a last second score was waived off. Freshman forward Chris Pontius netted a goal that would have tied the game at two in the final second of the match, but the referee called off the score, indicating the horn had sounded. The loss was UCSB's eighth straight to the Lions.
Sliding After Slipping
What a difference a goal makes. After climbing back into the NSCAA Top 25 last week after a two-week absence at No. 22, UCSB slipped out of the Top 25 again after its one goal loss to Loyola Marymount Sunday. The Gauchos first dropped from the NSCAA coaches' poll altogether in week two after beginning the season as the Preseason No. 4 following a loss to current No. 5 Cal and tying then No. 6 Virginia. The absence was the first in nearly three years for the Santa Barbara. In the media polls, UCSB fell out of the Top 10 as well, after garnering the No. 10 spot in both the College Soccer News and Soccer America polls with three straight victories. The Gauchos are currently ranked 19th in College Soccer News, Soccer America and Soccer Times, and 7th in the Top Drawer Soccer.com poll.
Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg is getting production from a wide spectrum of his roster in the early goings of the season as twelve different Gauchos have already hit the scoreboard this year. As far as putting the ball in the net goes, seven different players have tallied a total of 15 goals thus far, with all fifteen goals coming in the last five matches. But it is the make-up of those seven players that has kept opposing teams on their toes: two are forwards, seniors Jonathan Davis and Ivan Becerra, three are midfielders, sophomore Hermann Candidate Tyler Rosenlund, 2005 Team Co-Captain Bryan Byrne and freshman Chris Pontius, and the last two are defenders, sophomore preseason All-American Andy Iro and senior Nate Boyden. And just as UCSB's finishing has come from all over the field, you would assume it has been generated from all over the field. Altogether, Santa Barbara has had ten players notch assists so far this season, with four players tied for the team-lead with two apiece. By position, five of the assists had been credited to the forward line, six to the midfield, and four the defense.
Making a Name for Himself
After going scoreless through the first four games of the season, senior forward Ivan Becerra broke out recently in a fashion very similar to former teammate Neil Jones. Five games into the season, Becerra finally broke through against the Highlanders with a two-goal performance that earned him Big West Player of the Week honors last week. The senior followed that effort with another stellar performance against Alabama A&M, scoring a goal in the 52nd minute and then another minutes later to seal the victory for the Gauchos. Leading the team and ranking second in the Big West with four goals, Becerra has also recorded two assists this season, giving him ten total points and sole possession of second place in the early going of the conference race for the scoring title. The Los Angeles, Calif. native has also taken a team-leading 23 shots, third most in the Big West.
Byrne Lights His Torch
Midfielder Bryan Byrne awoke this past weekend to tally his first points of the season. He has already matched his 2004 goal total of two, which is tied for fifth in conference play, and added an assist as well. The senior put the Gauchos on the board against Alabama A&M in the 22nd minute when he netted a pass from fellow midfielder Tyler Rosenlund. His assist followed soon after when he connected with Becerra to put the Gauchos on top 2-0. Becerra returned the favor two days later to against LMU, as the Gauchos struck first again when Byrne scored from five yards out in the seventh minute of the match. The Irishman's five total points rank him fourth on the team and sixth in the Big West.
Assuming the Lead
Despite the loss, it's safe to say that the Gauchos' well-balanced attack has finally begun to work like a well-oiled machine. The proof is UCSB's current position on the Big West scoring charts. After Cal State Northridge started the year with seven goals in their first two matches of the season, it didn't look like anyone in the conference would be able to catch them, but with fifteen goals in the last five games the Gauchos have surpassed the Matadors and moved into the top spot, averaging 2.14 goals per game to CSUN's 2.00. And while most of Northridge's offensive output has come from one player, junior Willie Sims who is averaging conference-leading 1.00 goal per game, Santa Barbara's has been wide spread with Gauchos occupying the second, third, and fifth place spots on the conference goal-scoring charts.
Hermann Trophy Watch
After being named to Top Drawer Soccer.com's National Team of the Week two out of the last three weeks, sophomore Hermann Trophy candidate Tyler Rosenlund continued to shine in the game against Alabama A&M last Friday. Under his direction, the Gaucho offense outshot Alabama A&M 14-8 and tallied a 9-5 advantage in shots on goal. For the entire season 49 of Santa Barbara's 96 shots have been on frame for a SOG percentage of .510. Rosenlund also posted two assists in the game, a feat that no other Gaucho is yet accomplish this season. The first came on Byrne's opening goal and then he later connected with sophomore Myle Davis to set up Becerra for his second dish of the day. Rosenlund has also done his job defensively in the midfield, helping UCSB to limit the opposition to a respectable .343 SOG percentage and a conference-leading +1.31 scoring margin thus far in 2005.