No. 17 Gauchos to Open Big West Play this Week

Sept. 28, 2010

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• The Schedule
Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010, 7 p.m.

UC Santa Barbara (3-2-2) at Cal State Fullerton (1-4-2)
Series record vs. Titans: 24-22-2
Last meeting: W, 2-0 (Oct. 24, 2009)
Streak: Won 11
Broadcast LIVE on BigWest.TV

Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010, 7 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (3-2-2) vs. UC Davis (2-6-0)
Series record vs. Aggies: 12-4-4
Last meeting: W, 2-0 (Nov. 7, 2009)
Streak: Won 2
Game available on Gametracker
Broadcast LIVE on AM 1290 and

• The Wild, Wild (Big) West
UC Santa Barbara will open its 2010 Big West Conference schedule this week as the Gauchos travel to Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday before returning to Harder Stadium on Saturday to host UC Davis. UCSB posted an 8-1-1 conference record and captured the regular season Big West title in 2009. The Gauchos were chosen to finish first in the league this year in a preseason poll of the conference coaches, receiving six of the seven first-place votes.

• Honor Roll
Freshman forward David Opoku and senior goalkeeper Sam Hayden each garnered Big West Player of the Week honors for the second consecutive week after helping lead the Gauchos to a 2-0 victory over UCLA last Friday. Opoku was named the conference's Offensive Player of the Week after scoring the game-winning goal in the 75th minute. The score was picked as the LA Soccer News Goal of the Week. Hayden, meanwhile, was named the Big West's Co-Defensive Player of the Week - sharing the honor with UC Irvine goalkeeper Andrew Fontein - after tying his career-high of six saves and posting his third straight shutout. They are the first UCSB players to earn back-to-back player of the week honors since Ciaran O'Brien did in 2007.

• UCSB Sets New Attendance Record
The 15,896 fans that showed up to Harder Stadium on Friday evening to watch UCSB knock-off UCLA marked the largest crowd to ever attend an NCAA Division I soccer match at an on-campus site. The attendance was the third largest for an NCAA regular season match (the top two crowds were recorded at Busch Stadium) and the 16th biggest crowd overall, including NCAA Tournament semifinal and final matches. The crowd surpassed the Gauchos' previous Harder Stadium record, which was set on Dec. 4, 2004 when UCSB faced Virginia Commonwealth in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals, by 4,682 people.

• Breaking Through
After being selected as a consensus preseason top-10 team in all five national college soccer polls, the Gauchos had slipped out of the top-30 in every poll the last two weeks. This week, UCSB has resurfaced in the polls. The Gauchos are ranked No. 17 by Soccer America, No. 23 by College Soccer News and No. 26 by Top Drawer Soccer and UCSB is receiving votes in the Soccer Times and NSCAA polls.

• Opoku On Target
Freshman forward David Opoku scored his third goal in as many games on Friday, just seconds after subbing back into the match against UCLA. It was the first game-winning goal of his young career. The Accra, Ghana native ranks second among the Gauchos and seventh in the Big West with his seven points (3 goals, 1 assist). He ranks third in the league for goals per game (0.50) and is fifth for goals and points per game (1.17).

• Hayden Making History
Senior goalkeeper Sam Hayden tallied his third straight shutout of the year on Friday. He now ranks seventh in Big West lore with 19 shutouts in just 31 matches played with the Gauchos. The Jackson, Wyoming native matched his career-high with six saves on Friday; he has tallied six saves on five occasions. Currently, Hayden's 0.72 career goals against average ranks as the best in the history of the conference and the UCSB men's soccer program.

• UCSB's Upswing
After going 0-2-1 in its first three contests this year, UCSB has righted its ship and is amidst a four-game unbeaten streak and three-game win streak, which is the best active streak among Big West squads. During the last four games, UCSB has outscored its opposition 10-2 after being outscored 3-1 in the first three contests.

• Forward Thinking
Sophomore Sam Garza leads the Gauchos with his nine points this season (3 goals, 3 assists). The forward leads the Big West with his 3.71 shots per game, is second with his 1.29 points per game and is tied for third with 0.43 assists per game.

• Defensive Behavior
The Gaucho defense has been solid to start the season, posting a 0.66 goals against average, which currently ranks second in the Big West and 22nd nationally. Meanwhile, the team's .861 saves percentage - recorded by Sam Hayden - is 21st nationally.

• Freshmen Ranked Among Top-100
Fifi Baiden and David Opoku have been named on Top Drawer Soccer's College Freshmen Top 100 list. Baiden is ranked No. 36 and Opoku is No. 89 on the list. Sophomore Sam Garza and junior Danny Barrera are on the upperclassmen list, coming in at 43rd and 55th, respectively.

• Home Sweet Home
Following Wednesday's Big West opener at Fullerton, UCSB will return to Meredith Field at Harder Stadium for a four-match homestand - its longest of the season. The Gauchos are 1-1-1 at home so far this year, but have gone 229-119-40 (.642) all-time at Harder Stadium and 84-23-13 (.754) since Tim Vom Steeg took over the program in 1999.

• The Cup is Coming, The Cup is Coming!
UCSB is the proud host of the 2010 NCAA Men's College Cup which will take place Dec. 10 and 12 at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. This marks the first time since the 2004 season that the Cup has been held on the West Coast. All-Session passes for the College Cup can be purchased by calling (805) 893-UCSB, visiting the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or buy online by clicking here.

• Thank You Santa Barbara Airport
UCSB Athletics would like to extend a special thank you to the Santa Barbara Airport, which is the official sponsor of Saturday's match against UC Davis!