October 19, 2005

No. 14 UCSB Faces No. 12 UCLA in Key West Coast Showdown, Hosts Cal Poly

Oct. 19, 2005

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This Week's Schedule

Thursday, October 20
No. 14 UC Santa Barbara (7-2-3) at No. 12 UCLA (7-3-2)
UCLA's Frank W. Marshall Field • Kickoff 7:00 p.m.
***broadcast live on 91.9 KCSB FM/www.kcsb.org***

Saturday, October 22
No. 14 UC Santa Barbara (7-2-3) vs. Cal Poly (4-9-0)
UCSB's Harder Stadium • Kickoff 7:00 p.m.

How They Faired
UCSB went 1-0-1 for the second consecutive week, starting with a 2-2 tie at UC Irvine last Friday followed up by a 1-0 win over future Big West member UC Davis the following day. Bryan Byrne and Eric Frimpong each added game-tying goals against the Anteaters, but neither team could push the ball across in the extra periods and the game ended deadlocked at two. In the contest against the Aggies, Eric Avila netted the game winner and the Gaucho defense held Davis to zero shots on goal, and three overall, in the victory. Santa Barbara improved to 7-2-3 overall and 3-0-2 in the Big West.

How The Big West Is Won
For the fifth consecutive week the 14th-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team finds itself in the top spot of the Big West Conference standings after a tie with UC Irvine to remain undefeated in league play...As of October 16, the Gauchos hold a one-point edge over Cal State Northridge (3-0-1) in the conference standings after the Matadors beat Cal State Fullerton before drawing with UCLA in non-conference action last week. 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.

How They Rank
UCSB enters this week's action with a national ranking of 23 in the current NSCAA Coaches' Poll, slipping from last week's 20th rank, its highest position since a preseason ranking of 4. After moving from the NSCAA Top 25 for the first time in three years in weeks two through four, Santa Barbara finds itself in the coaches' poll for the third straight. The Gauchos jump-started its climb back into the NSCAA poll with a 3-1 victory over Cal Poly in their first meeting of the year September 28. Santa Barbara continues to improve its position in the Soccer Times coaches' poll, climbing two spots to 14th. In the media polls, the Gauchos are ranked 16th by College Soccer News and 22nd in Soccer America. UCSB continues to hold down the No. 9 spot in upstart Top Drawer Soccer.com's national rankings.

UCLA Game Capsule
• UCSB starts this week off on the road at perennial national title contender UCLA in a key Far West Region (NSCAA) match-up. Ranked 17th in this week's NSCAA poll, the Bruins are currently ranked fourth in the Far West, one spot ahead of Santa Barbara. UCLA leads the all-time series 26-2-2, but the two schools have not faced each other since 2001, when they battled to a scoreless tie in 2001 at Harder Stadium. The Gauchos played the latter half of the match a man down after starting defender Reuben Bates received a red card in the 65th minute. Santa Barbara has not defeated the Bruins since October 30, 1982, a 3-1 affair at Harder Stadium.

• UCLA enters Thursday's match with a 7-3-2 overall record after a pair of scoreless ties with No. 23 Cal State Northridge and No. 19 San Diego State last week. The 12th-ranked Bruins defense has proved to be its biggest weapon this season, rankingg first in the nation in shutout percentage and fourth in team goals against average. Junior keeper Eric Reed ranks third in goals against average (0.30) and second in shots on goal save percentage (0.914). Although UCLA has just scored one goal in its last four matches (1-1-2), sophomore forward Kamani Hill is the man to watch on offense, leading the team with six assists and 12 points to go along with three goals. Junior U.S. Youth National Team standout Patrick Ianni, a M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Candidate, has tallied two goals and an assist on the year.

Cal Poly Game Capsule
• Following the Gauchos' showdown in Westwood, the team returns home to host Central Coast and Big West rival Cal Poly. UCSB controls the series with the Mustangs, leading the all-time series 34-12-2, especially as of late. Santa Barbara has won its last nine meetings with San Luis Obispo, outscoring Poly 29-6 in that span. Winless thus far, UCSB has already defeated Cal Poly 3-1 on September 28th this season, led by Ivan Becerra's goals off Nate Boyden assists.

• Cal Poly enters Saturday's contest with an overall record of 4-9-0, 0-4-0 in the Big West, and will play at Cal State Fullerton Wednesday night. Last week the Mustangs lost 1-0 to UC Davis and 2-1 to UC Riverside. Cal Poly has recorded 17 goals in its 13 matches and currently sports a respectable 1.31 goals scored average. Senior Moses Vargas mans the Mustang offensive ship, leading the team with four goals, nine points, and 27 shots. Sophomore Jeremy Coupe has started every game in goal and brings a 1.69 goals against average with 52 saves entering this week's action.

How The Big West Is Won II
After starting the season slowly at 0-1-1, the Gauchos have found their groove and won seven of their last ten and are in the midst of a season high five match unbeaten streak. UCSB, who has not lost in league play and currently has the lead in the Big West Conference standings, either leads or is in second place in 11 out of 14 Big West statistical categories. The Gauchos lead the conference in goals scored (27) and assists (26), giving them a commanding lead in the race for the conference scoring title with 80 points. Defensively UCSB has been stellar as well, leading the Big West in goals allowed with 11 and shutouts (five), while ranking second in goals against average (0.87). As long as the Gauchos continue to play like they have been on both sides of the ball, the defending Big West Champion Gauchos remain the team to beat.

All Tied Up
While the Gauchos have recorded only one tie each year for the past three years, this year's squad has already seen three of their matches end in a draw, including two of the last three. Their first came in just their second match of the year, a nil-nil affair with No. 4 Virginia, playing without defenders Andy Iro and Nate Boyden. Two weeks ago Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge, the conference's top two teams, battled to a 2-2 deadlock in a nationally televised match that featured a pair of penalty kicks. And most recently, UCSB and 2005 conference-title contender UC Irvine's match ended knotted at two, as well. In the last five years UCSB has gone 6-1-1 in games following ties and won those by a combined score of 16-7.

Questions Getting Answered
Now with UCSB's opening-weekend offensive woes behind them, having netted 27 goals in its last ten matches, Santa Barbara has started to address the defensive questions that arose with the departure of All-Americans Tony Lochhead and Dan Kennedy. The Gauchos have tried a multitude of defensive lineups this season, never employing the unit in consecutive weeks. Last week the D-unit of seniors Chris Hughes, Pat Scott, and Nate Boyden, along with sophomore preseason All-American Andy Iro and junior goalkeeper Kyle Reynish, held the UCSB opposition in check. Don't be deceived by UC Irvine's two goals last Friday, one was on a penalty kick and the other came on a break away following an arrant head-ball. For the entire match, Santa Barbara allowed just three shots on goal, two during the run of play, in the tie at UCI. And one day later, they held UC Davis without a single shot on goal, giving up just three total in the match, with the first coming in the matches' 65th minute.

The Waiting Game
After going down against Northridge October 8, senior forward Ivan Becerra did not start against Irvine but saw significant time and did not play at all against Davis. While Becerra fully recovers from injury, the Gauchos are patiently waiting for their top offensive player to return to form. Beginning with their game against UC Riverside September 18, 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, netting two goals in each contest. His eight goals lead the team and are tops in the Big West. Becerra has also recorded two assists this season giving him 18 total points and a first place tie in the race for the conference scoring title. He is expected to play against UCLA.

Byrne's Still Burning
Senior midfielder and Team Co-Captain Bryan Byrne continued his excellent play this past week. Byrne netted the first of two game-tying goals for the Gauchos in the 44th minute against UC Irvine, finishing off an Eric Avila shot to enter halftime 1-1. In the last four games, the Castledermont, Ireland native has posted two goals and two assists to go with 12 shots. He is second on the team with four goals and eleven points. His three assists are tied with three others for second on the squad.

Frimmer's Feelin' It
Since scoring the first goal of his collegiate career against Cal State Fullerton two week's ago, junior midfielder Eric Frimpong has been a very effective offensive weapon for UCSB. Having started each of the Gauchos' last two matches, he has a tallied a game-tying goal and game-winning assist, taking a team-high six shots. His scored his second collegiate goal against the Anteaters in the 55th minute, finishing off a Jeff Murphy cross to secure one point on the road for UCSB. Frimpong followed up his Friday performance by assisting the game winner in Saturday's contest, carrying the ball into the UC Davis box and dishing it off to Eric Avila in the matches' 81st minute, giving the Gauchos the eventual 1-0 win over the Aggies.

A Formidable Freshman
Freshman Eric Avila has been on a tear lately, backing up the expectations placed upon him before the start of the season, hitting the scoresheet in four out of the Gauchos' last five contests. The U.S. Under-17 National Team standout assisted on Byrne's goal in the 44th minute against UCI and scored his second goal of the season, the game-winner in the 81st minute Saturday against Davis. Avila is now the team leader with four assists, one ahead of M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Candidate Tyler Rosenlund, and third on the squad with eight total points. The midfielder has also been impressive defensively, helping UCSB limit the opposition to a respectable .327 SOG percentage and a conference-leading +1.33 scoring margin thus far in 2005

Reynish's Reign
Junior goalkeeper Kyle Reynish has been getting the job done all season long between the posts. He has played all 1140 minutes for the Gauchos in 2005 and has 38 saves for a .776 save percentage, which is second in the Big West, while his .87 goals against average are tops in the conference. In the matchup with Davis, the Valencia, Calif. native held the Aggies scoreless, earning his fifth shutout of the year, although he did not have to make a single save of shot, as the Gaucho defense did its job and held Davis to three shots. Two weeks ago Reynish proved to be Santa Barbara's hero, stopping a Taylor Canel penalty kick with just over one minute remaining in regulation against Cal State Northridge, keeping the Matadors from earning the win, and three points, from the Gauchos on their home turf.

Hermann Trophy Watch
Sophomore Hermann Trophy Candidate Tyler Rosenlund continued to sit this week rehabilitating an injury he suffered against Cal Poly September 28. The Canadian Youth National Team star has missed a significant amount time in the Gauchos' last two matches in an attempt to get back to full strength. Prior to not appearing in last Saturday's match against UC Davis and playing a couple of minutes at UC Irvine, Rosenlund had not missed a match since week one of his freshman season. He is tied for fourth on the team with seven points off two goals and three assists.