This Weekend's Schedule
Saturday, October 8
No. 14 UC Santa Barbara (5-2-1) vs. Cal State Northridge (6-2-1)
UCSB's Harder Stadium Kickoff 7:00 p.m.
Match will be broadcast nationally on tape-delay by CSTV on Monday, October 10th at 7:00 p.m. PST.
Taking Its Hold
The 14th-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team remains atop the Big West Conference standings this week after defeating Cal State Fullerton 4-0 Wednesday and Cal Poly 3-1 on September 28th...The victory over the Titans gave the Gauchos sole possession of the top spot once again, taking a one game lead over second place Cal State Northridge, who posts a 2-0 record in league play after victories over Cal Poly and UC Riverside. This weekend's match-up is shaping up to be very intriguing, as the top two squads in the BWC go head-to-head. After winning the conference crown for the third time in four years last season, UCSB has now held at least a share of the conference lead since finishing second in 2003.
At Home in the Big West
After a tough 2-1 loss at Loyola Marymount two weeks ago, UCSB rebounded with convincing wins over Big West foes Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton. Senior Ivan Becerra scored two goals, again, including the game-winner in each contest, as the Gauchos defeated the Mustangs for the ninth consecutive time and the Titans for the fourth time in a row to improve to 6-2-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big West.
Where They Rank
With the victory over Cal Poly, UCSB climbed back into the NSCAA Coaches' Poll this week at No. 24 after slipping out of the Top 25 a week ago following its one goal loss to Loyola Marymount September 25th. This marked the Gauchos' second stint out of the Top 25 this year, with the first coming after a loss to then No. 10 Cal and a tie with then No. 6 Virginia at the start of the season. Santa Barbara finds itself 6th in the incredibly strong Far West Region. The Gauchos have climbed back to 14th College Soccer News' Top 30, up from last week's 19th-ranking, their lowest of the season. UCSB is also ranked 19th by Soccer Times, and 20th in Soccer America. Upstart Top Drawer Soccer.com has Santa Barbara at 6th, up one from its preseason nod of No. 7 in the poll.
Cal State Northridge Game Capsule
UCSB returns home to meet Big West rival Cal State Northridge Saturday. The all-time series between the two programs has been extremely close over the years, with the Gauchos leading by the narrowest of margins 11-10-3. As the series history between these two schools would suggest, they split their two games a year ago, with the Matadors handing the Gauchos their first loss of the season 3-1 on October 16 in Northridge. Santa Barbara avenged that loss, defeating CSUN 2-1 November 9 at Harder Stadium.
The Matadors enter Saturday's match 6-2-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big West after a 2-1 win over UC Riverside and a 3-1 victory over Cal Poly last week. Northridge has tallied a total of 19 goals and 18 assists this season for a 2.11 goals per game average. All-Big West First Teamer Willie Sims directs the Matador offense, leading the team with eight goals, 18 points and 35 shots. Freshman keeper Kevin Guppy has started every game between the posts and comes in with a 1.32 goals against average and 29 saves. Senior midfielder Daniel Paladini scored the game-winner against the Matadors and netted two goals against the Mustangs to earn a spot on this week's College Soccer News National Team of the Week.
A Well-Oiled Machine
After winning seven out of their last nine matches, it is safe to say that the Gauchos' attack is firing on all cylinders, or at least most of them. The proof is UCSB's current positions 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 22 goals in the last seven games the Gauchos surpassed the Matadors to grab a hold of the top spot, averaging 3.14 goals per game. As Santa Barbara continues to put the ball in the back of the net, the team has moved into first in the conference in assists per game (4.00) and points (33) as well. Defensively, the Gauchos have been the toughest there is to score on, allowing a league-best one goal for a .33 goals against average through three conference matches, and second best 0.85 goals against average overall.
No Substitute For Experience
When UCSB opened the season on September 2nd against Cal, the starting XI only had a combined 115 starts amongst them, or an average of 10.5 per player, and the lineup consisted of five players with two or less starts in 2004. This was quite a drastic change from the team that started last year's NCAA National Championship with a combined 507 career matches or an average of 46.1 a piece. Nine games into the season, the starting lineup against Cal State Fullerton had a combined 220 starts for an average of 20 per player, nearly twice as many starts as when the 2005 season started. While the difference of 75 starts between the first match of the season and last week's is an improvement, the Gauchos' level of experience is still a far cry from last year's squad, but an even farther cry from Santa Barbara's opening day lineup.
Senior forward Ivan Becerra has been on an absolute tear lately scoring a pair of goals in four out of the Gauchos' last five matches. Beginnig with a two-goal performance against UC Riverside, Becerra has put the team on his back and single-handedly secured victories against the Highlanders, Alabama A&M, Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton. The Los Angeles native was named Big West Player of the Week and to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week during this span. Most recently, Becerra netted what proved to be the game-winner against CSF in the eighth minute on a perfect pass from Eric Avila and added another score in the 66th minute on an Andy Iro cross, as the Gauchos went on to defeat the Titans in convincing fashion, 4-0. His eight goals lead the team and are tied with CSUN's Sims for tops in the Big West. Becerra has also recorded two assists this season giving him 18 total points and a first place tie with Sims in the conference race for the scoring title. The two forwards share the conference lead in five offensive categories.
For his work in helping the Gaucho offense break free from its opening weekend struggles, it was only a matter of time until freshman midfielder Eric Avila would net the first goal of his collegiate career that he deserved. After assisting on UCSB's first goal of the season against Northwestern, the U.S. under-17 National Team standout finally broke through for himself, literally. In UCSB's 3-1 the victory at Cal Poly he took a pass from fellow midfielder and sophomore Hermann Trophy candidate Tyler Rosenlund and put away a wide-open shot after beating the goalkeeper 1-on-1 to give UCSB a 1-0 lead early in the match. After picking up an assist against Fullerton, Avila is tied for first on the team with three, and his 19 shots are second most.
Set Up Man
After last week's match at Cal Poly, Ivan Becerra and senior midfielder Nate Boyden know each other much better than they used to. The pair connected twice in the second half for two goals as the Gauchos went on to defeat the Mustangs, 3-1. The two assists were the first and second of the season for Boyden, he is now the second Gaucho to record two in a game in 2005. The team's co-captain scored his only goal of the year against Northwestern September 9 on a stellar free kick.
Junior midfielder Eric Frimpong scored the first goal of his collegiate career Wednesday when he received the ball from freshman forward Nick Perera on a clear run at the Fullerton net. One-on-one with the Titan keeper, Perera laid off a pass to the onrushing Frimpong near the top of the 18-yard box. Frimpong one-timed Perera's pass and rifled a shot inside the near post for the Gauchos' fourth goal of the night. The assist was also Perera's first career point. Frimpong has two assists this year to go along with his goal for a total of four points.
Hermann Trophy Watch
Sophomore Hermann Trophy candidate Tyler Rosenlund continued to shine last week against the Mustangs despite getting banged up. Under his direction, the Gaucho offense outshot Cal Poly 18-12 and tallied a 9-2 advantage in shots on goal. For the entire season, 67 of Santa Barbara's 131 shots have been on frame for a SOG percentage of .511. After posting two assists two weeks ago against Alabama A&M, Rosenlund connected with Avila on UCSB's first strike against Cal Poly in the 11th minute for his team-leading third dish of the season. Rosenlund has also done his job defensively in the midfield, helping UCSB to limit the opposition to a respectable .303 SOG percentage and a conference-leading +1.68 scoring margin thus far in 2005.
Kyle Reynish - GK
After entering the 2005 season with three starts and just over 700 career minutes played, Reynish has spent all 830 minutes in goal for the Gauchos this year. He has only had to make a single save in each of UCSB's last two matches as a result of stellar defense, but when tested he has come up huge in posting four shutouts thus far on the season. He leads the Big West in goals against average (0.76), save percentage (.821), shutouts (4), and shutouts per game (0.44).
Nate Boyden - MF
Boyden tallied two assists against Cal Poly on September 28, connecting with Becerra on two goals. He became the second Gaucho to record two assists in a game this season (Rosenlund had two September 23 against Alabama A&M). Boyden has been instrumental in leading a defense that has limited the opposition to five or less shots on goal in eight out of their nine matches this season, and three or less in five.
Andy Iro - D
The 2005 preseason All-American and 2004 Big West Freshman of the Year tallied his second goal and assist of the season Wednesday against the Titans. One of the most dominant defenders in the country, he anchors a defensive unit that has posted four shutouts on the season and a stingy 0.76 GAA average. The Gauchos are 5-0 in matches when Iro records at least one shot on goal.
Pat Scott - D
Scott has helped anchor a defense that posted three shutouts in the Gauchos' first four matches of the year. Since 2004 All-Big West First Teamer's return after missing three games with an injury, Santa Barbara blanked Cal State Fullerton and looked very impressive in a 4-0 win. Of the six matches in which he has been healthy, UCSB has posted four shutouts.
Jeff Murphy - D
Murphy picked up his first point of the year against Cal State Fullerton when Iro netted his rebound when he header clanked off the Titan post following a Byrne corner kick. After taking a season off to pursue his mechanical engineering degree a year ago, Murphy has started seven games this season and blanketed Virginia's top returning goal scorer Adam Christman holding him to no shots on goal as UVa failed to find the back of the net against the Gauchos.
Bryan Byrne - MF
UCSB opponents have learn to respect Byrne's speed on the wing, helping to open up the center of the field for the Gauchos' young midfield. Now as opposing teams are starting to key more on the middle of Santa Barbara's offense with, Byrne has been outstanding as of late, scoring two goals and chipping in with two assists in two of the last three contests. It was his cross into the box last season that set-up Drew McAthy's goal tie Indiana in the National Championship match.
Ivan Becerra - F
Becerra has recorded two goals in four out of the last five matches for the Gauchos, leading the squad to a 4-0 record when he scores. After not scoring in Santa Barbara's first four matches of the season he has now netted eight goals in the last five matches, tying him with Northridge's Willie Sims for the Big West Conference lead in points (18), and goals (8), and shots per game (3.89).
Tyler Rosenlund - MF
The sophomore Hermann Trophy Candidate has been excellent defensively for the Gauchos, helping UCSB to limit the opposition to a respectable .303 SOG percentage and a conference-leading +1.68 scoring margin thus far in 2005. While Rosenlund continues to help Santa Barbara excel on defense, it is his playmaking ability offensively that he is known for. Rosenlund leads the team with three assists, ranking third in the Big West with a .33 assist per game average.
Myles Davis - D
The left side of the Gaucho defense and midfield has been an area that has been up in the air the first nine games of the season. Head coach Tim Vom Steeg has been looking for someone to step up and fill that spot and Davis has been the guy lately, starting two of the last three matches. UCSB is 2-1 during that span. He has also tallied one assist on the season.