October 3, 2006

Top 15 Opponents UCLA and UC Irvine Up Next In Crucial Week For UCSB

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Oct. 3, 2006

This Week's Schedule

Thursday, October 5, 2006
No. 28 UC Santa Barbara (6-4-0) vs. No. 7 UCLA (6-3-2)
Harder Stadium • Kickoff 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 7, 2006
No. 28 UC Santa Barbara (6-4-0, 2-1-0) vs. No. 15 UC Irvine (8-1-1, 3-0-0)
Harder Stadium • Kickoff 7:00 p.m.

Scouting the Bruins
• UCSB opens this week with No. 7 UCLA in a key NSCAA Far West Region match up. Thursday's contest will mark the 32nd meeting between the Gauchos and Bruins, with the boys from Westwood holding a 27-2-2 advantage in the all-time series. Ranked 16th in this week's NSCAA poll, the Bruins are currently tabbed third in the Far West. Last season the Bruins got an early goal from Brad Rusin in the third minute and held on for the 1-0 win in Los Angeles. The Gauchos' last win in the series came back on October 30, 1982, a 3-1 affair at Harder Stadium.

• UCLA enters Thursday night's contest with a 6-3-2 overall record after recording conference victories over No. 4 Washington and Oregon State over the weekend. The Bruins are led by sophomore forward Maxwell Griffin who has scored a team-high five goals, while Sal Zizzo and Kyle Nakazawa have both found the net twice and dished out four assists apiece. Senior goalkeeper Eric Reed has spent the majority of the minutes between the posts and has a 1.34 goals against average with 30 saves.

Scouting the Anteaters
• After Thursday's showdown with the Bruins, the Gauchos welcome Big West Conference-leading UC Irvine to Harder Stadium. Saturday's meeting will be the 40th ever between the two schools, with Santa Barbara leading the series with Irvine 26-10-3. In 2005, UCSB and UCI battled to a 2-2 overtime tie October 14 in Irvine on goals from Jeff Murphy and Bryan Byrne. The Gauchos came out on top 2-0 in their second meeting of the year November 12, as Tyler Rosenlund and Jonathan Davis found the net.

• The Anteaters, who are ranked No. 15 in this week's College Soccer News poll, bring an impressive 8-1-1 overall record and a 3-0-0 conference mark in to Saturday's game following wins over Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly last week. UCI will play at UC Davis this Wednesday. Sophomore defender Matt Murphy has been the spark of the Anteater offense, with a team-high seven goals and three assists in 2006. Senior forward Brad Evans, who just won a second-straight Big West Player of the week award has scored five goals and dished out two assists. Senior keeper Kenny Schoeni has started all but one game for Irvine and holds a 0.75 goals against average with 27 saves.

UCLA Match Televised By FSC
This week's match with seventh-ranked UCLA will be the first of two nationally televised contests for UCSB this season. The Fox Soccer Channel will broadcast the game live as part of its 20-game "live and exclusive NSCAA College Match of the Week" package. To accomodate television, the Gauchos and Bruins will kickoff at 8:00 p.m., instead of the regular 7:00 p.m. start time of most UCSB home games. Santa Barbara will also have it's October 25 match up with Cal State Northridge televised by CSTV, as the two teams will showcase their rivalry on national television for the second year in a row.

UCSB Roughed Up At Cal State Northridge
Last Wednesday was a day that the Gauchos and their faithful would just as soon forget as UCSB was trounced 5-0 at rival Cal State Northridge. After taking two of three from Santa Barbara last season, including a 3-2 decision in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Matadors picked up where they left off scoring three times in the first half and twice more in the final nine minutes, handing the Gauchos their first lost in conference play this season. The match featured 39 fouls, 12 yellow cards and four red cards and UCSB was forced to try and dig themselves out of a 3-0 hole in the second half playing a man down. The loss was the worst defeat of head coach Tim Vom Steeg's eight-year career and worst since Santa Barbara fell 6-0 at the hands of Oregon State October 11, 1998--the year before Vom Steeg took over.

Gauchos Bounce Back with Win Over Michigan
After falling out of the NSCAA Top 25 last week before suffering the brutal 5-0 defeat to Cal State Northridge, UCSB was in desperate need of a win. They got just that, defeating the University of Michigan 1-0 in the second overtime period Saturday night at Harder Stadium. After battling the Wolverines to a scoreless tie through regulation and the first overtime period, Jon Curry took a corner kick from Eric Avila and connected on a slicing shot in the 104th minute to bring home the victory for the Gauchos and snap a two-game skid. Santa Barbara out-shot the visitors 18-11 overall for the match and limited Michigan to just two shots on frame. The Gauchos also pulled out the win playing a man down, fielding nine men to the Wolverines' ten in the second overtime period after three red cards were issued. With the victory, UCSB improved to 6-4-0 overall and remained perfect in overtime at 2-0 this season.

Where Did the O Go?
UCSB's offense has had its struggles this season and the Gauchos have had trouble finding the net even more recently. After opening 2006 with a 5-0 thrashing of No. 7 Akron, the Gauchos have scored one goal or less in seven of their last nine matches. On the season, Santa Barbara has tallied a total of 13 goals in ten matches for a 1.3 goals per game average. In their last three contests--losses to UC Davis and Cal State Northridge and a win over Michigan--the Gauchos have scored just one goal, the game-winner in the 104th minute against the Wolverines. In addition, after UCSB was shutout only once in its first seven matches--a 1-0 loss to No. 3 Virginia--the Gauchos have been blanked in two of the last three. After averaging just over two goals per game in 2005, few people expected Santa Barbara to struggle to finish like they have so far this season.

The Defense Responds
With the offensive struggling the way it has, the Gauchos have had to rely on their defensive to keep them in games and it has been reliable all season. Heading into last week's showdown with defending Big West Conference champion Cal State Northridge, goalkeeper Kyle Reynish and the Santa Barbara defense had allowed just five goals in their first eight matches for a respectable 0.63 goals per game average. As we all know, last Wednesday definitely wasn't the Gauchos day, as the Matadors put a five spot on the scoreboard themselves, doubling the number of goals UCSB had allowed this season. Just as head coach Tim Vom Steeg's team was on the winning end of that five goal decision to start the season, the Gauchos experienced the flip side of the coin, losing by the same margin. Such is life in sports and every team is entitled to a bad game. It is how you respond to a loss like that that really matters. Reynish and the Gauchos bounced back in a big way, limiting Michigan to just two shots on goal en route to their fifth shutout of the season in Saturday's 1-0 win.

Gauchos Still Perfect In Overtime
Santa Barbara played its second overtime contest in as many weeks Saturday and got the same result: a golden goal in the second extra period. The Gauchos improved to 2-0 in overtime matches after defeating Cal State Fullerton 2-1 September 21 and outlasting Michigan 1-0 last week. UCSB has dominated the competition after regulation in 2006, out-shooting their opponents 8-3. In fact, the Gauchos have not allowed a single shot in the second overtime period this year. Dating back to the 2004 season, UCSB has won or tied 11 of its last 12 overtime games, with the only loss coming against Indiana in the 2004 National Championship match.

Unfamiliar Territory
After the Gauchos fell out of the NSCAA/adidas coaches poll last week for the first time since a two week absence at the beginning of 2005, UCSB failed to crack the Top 25 for again after the ugly 5-0 loss to Cal State Northridge. In an even stranger development for the Gauchos and their faithful, the loss also dropped them out of the Soccer America and Soccer Times media polls altogether, although Santa Barbara did still receive votes for the Soccer Times Top 25. The absence in this week's polls is the first for the Gauchos in over three years. UCSB did secure a spot in this week's College Soccer News Top 30 at No. 28. With No. 7 UCLA and No. 15 UC Irvine on tap this week, the Gauchos have a perfect opportunity to pick up two quality wins and recapture a spot in the national polls.

A Golden Opportunity
For the second time in four games, the Gauchos got a big play from someone off the bench to seal the victory in double overtime. After sophomore forward Nick Perera came up with the golden goal in the 105th minute to defeat Cal State Fullerton 2-1 September 21, freshman Jon Curry could not have picked a better time to net his first-career goal donning the blue and gold last week. In the 104th minute against Michigan Saturday, Curry collected a free kick from midfielder Eric Avila lined up about 25 yards out. The Sacramento native then sent a low shot through the defense and past a fully outstretched Wolverine keeper just inside the left post, delivering the 1-0 win for the Gauchos. Curry, who redshirted the 2005 season, has appeared in seven matches for UCSB this season, taking a total of three shots. He became the eighth different Gaucho to score a goal this season.

Things Are Rosy
Junior midfielder Tyler Rosenlund made his return to the Gaucho lineup for the first time this season last week. Rosenlund came in off the bench in the loss to the Matadors and was then in the starting lineup in the win over the Wolverines. With the All-Big West First Team selection back in the middle, UCSB should be much better at pushing forward the rest of this season. Rosenlund's ability to sort out the midfield has been sorely missed so far this year. A MAC Hermann Trophy Candidate in 2005, Rosenlund finished the season third on the team with 13 points on three goals and seven assists. The Port Coquitlam, B.C. native has been hampered by injuries the past two seasons, missing the first eight games this year with a foot injury.