No. 1 Seed UCSB Hosts No. 4 Northridge in Big West Semifinal
Nov. 10, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009, 7 p.m.
No. 4 UC Santa Barbara (14-3-2, 8-1-1) vs. Cal State Northridge (10-7-2, 5-4-1)
at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium
Series record vs. Northridge - 16-14-5
Streak - Won 1
Last time out vs. Northridge - W, 2-0 (Oct. 28, 2009)
Game broadcast LIVE by KIST 1490 AM (streaming at UCSBgauchos.com)
Game available on Gametracker
How To Get Your Tickets
If you are planning on coming to Wednesday's game, there are plenty of ways to get your hand on tickets. Click here for all of the details.
It's Tourney Time
No. 1 seeded UC Santa Barbara will host a Big West Conference Tournament semifinal game against No. 4 seeded Cal State Northridge on Wednesday night at Harder Stadium. Up the coast, No. 2 seed Cal Poly will host No. 3 seed UC Irvine at the same time. The winners of Wednesday's semifinal games will advance to the championship game on Saturday, which will be played at the top remaining seed's home site. Should UCSB win, it will host Saturday's championship at 7 p.m. The winner of the tournament receives the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Gauchos Win Sixth Big West Title
With its tie at Cal Poly last Wednesday evening, UCSB secured the Big West Conference title outright. It marks the Gauchos' sixth conference crown since the league reinstated men's soccer in 2001. In all, UCSB's six regular season championships is the most in Big West history, surpassing former member Fresno State's five regular season crowns. The Gauchos finished the league regular season with an 8-1-1 record and are now tied for the third-most victories in a 10-game conference season in Big West history, while their .850 winning percentage in conference matches is also tied for third-best in Big West lore. This season marked the fourth in the Tim Vom Steeg era (1999-present) that UCSB has recorded one or no conference losses during regular season conference play.
For The Record
UCSB currently sports a 14-3-2 overall record, marking its most wins in a season since 2006 (17-7-1) and the best start to a year since 2004, when the Gauchos posted a 16-2-1 record in their first 19 games.
This Time Last Year
The Big West held its inaugural conference tournament last season. The Gauchos took the No. 2 seed into the tournament and faced Cal Poly in the first round. The two teams battled to a 2-2 tie before the Gauchos defeated the Mustangs 4-3 in penalty kicks. Unfortunately, in the championship game the Gauchos were not as fortunate, as UCSB fell 4-2 to UC Irvine.
Home Field Advantage
The biggest benefit of the Gauchos' No. 1 seed into this week's tournament is the opportunity to stay at home. UCSB has posted an 8-1 record at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium this year and has not given up a goal on its home pitch in the last six home matches. The Gauchos' eight home wins mark their most since they posted 11 in 2006 and the last time they recorded just one loss and no ties was in 2004, when they went 10-1-0 at home.
Gaucho Fans On Pace For National Record
A large part of the Gauchos' home field advantage is the UCSB faithful that show up each match and have put UCSB on course to break the modern-day men's soccer attendance record. The Gauchos are averaging 4,798 fans per game, and with at least one home match left, should top the NCAA record of 3,629 fans per game set by New Mexico in 2005. The unofficial record is held by Connecticut, which averaged 4,297 fans a game in 1982. UCSB has led the nation in average attendance the last two years, averaging 3,435 fans in 2007 and 3,444 in 2008.
Lucky Number 13
Goalkeeper Sam Hayden tied the UCSB record for single season shutouts on Saturday as the Gauchos posted a 2-0 victory over UC Davis. The record was first set by Gaucho great Dan Kennedy in 2004. One more shutout will tie Hayden for the Big West Conference shutout record set by Harry Fields of UNLV in 1984. The school and Big West record for total shutouts in a season is 15, set by the 2004 squad.
Speaking of Sam Hayden, the junior currently ranks 11th in the nation and first in the Big West with his 0.62 goals against average. He also leads the Big West and ranks 21st nationally with a .846 saves percentage. In conference play, he allowed just one goal across 10 games for a 0.10 goals against average.
Living In A State Of Denial
The Gauchos now rank third in the country with their .680 shutout percentage. UCSB has allowed just 12 goals this season and just one in the last 11 games. The Gauchos own a 0.61 goals against average, which ranks eighth in the country. The school record for lowest opponent goals per match average was set in 2004 at 0.56. The school record for fewest goals allowed in a season is 14 by the 2004 squad (the record for a season with less than 12 matches is 13 by the 1967 squad).
While the Gaucho defense has been on fire, the UCSB offense is no slouch in comparison. The Gauchos rank 22nd nationally and lead the Big West with their 1.84 goals per game average. UCSB also leads the conference for points (108), goals (35) and assists (38). The Gauchos have scored in all but two games this season: a 1-0 loss to Cal State Northridge (Oct. 18) and last Wednesday's 0-0 tie with Cal Poly.
The NCAA's third Ratings Percentage Index report was released Tuesday and it has the Gauchos 32nd on the list of all Division I programs, moving up 16 spots since the last report was released in late October. The RPI factors into the seeding of the NCAA Tournament.
Nonni Knows Goals
Freshman Michael Nonni scored his sixth goal and second game-winner of the season against UC Davis on Saturday. The forward is currently in a three-way tie with senior David Walker and sophomore Danny Barrera for points with 18 total. He currently ranks 88th nationally with an average of 1.06 per game - third in the Big West - and is also 79th in the country with 0.35 assists per game (six total), ranking fourth in conference. If Nonni were to finish the season with the team lead for points, he would be the first UCSB freshman to do so since Willum Thorsson tallied 16 points (five goals, six assists) to lead the 1984 Gauchos.
Senior David Walker maintained the team lead for goals when he tallied his seventh of the season on Saturday. This season alone, he has more than doubled his career count for goals (now 13 total). He ranks second in the Big West behind UC Irvine's Amani Walker with his 0.39 goals per game average and is fourth in both points per game (1.00) and shots per game (2.44).
18 Points And Counting
Along with Nonni and Walker, sophomore Danny Barrera also leads the team - and ranks third in the Big West - with 18 points (five goals, eight assists). He is tops among the Gauchos with eight assists and tied for first with UC Irvine's Irving Garcia with his average of 0.42 per game.
Coming To A Consensus
UCSB has been ranked in all five national polls every week of the season and for the first time this season, four of the five polls have UCSB ranked in the same position: No. 4. Soccer Times, NSCAA, College Soccer News and Soccer America have ranked UCSB fourth while Top Drawer Soccer has the Gauchos at No. 5. In the NSCAA's Far West Region poll, the Gauchos are ranked No. 1. This marks the third week - and second straight - that the Gauchos have been ranked in every poll's top-five this season.
A Minute On The Matadors
Cal State Northridge posted a 3-0 win over UC Irvine last Saturday to earn the No. 4 seed into this week's conference tournament. The Matadors are amidst a three-game win streak that kicked-off after their last game against UCSB - a 2-0 loss on Oct. 28. Northridge has one advantage coming into this Wednesday's game - it is the only team in the Big West that has handed the Gauchos a loss. On Oct. 18, the Matadors posted a 1-0 victory over UCSB. Cameron Sims leads the team with seven goals on the season and is tied for the team-lead in points with Shunghyun Kim, who has 15 on the year (four goals, seven assists).
On The Air
All the remaining 2009 contests, including postseason matches, will be broadcast in Santa Barbara on KIST 1490 AM and online here. This Wednesday's game will be broadcast live with Steve Wendt calling all the action and Barry Punzal providing color commentary.
UCSB Athletics has a new weekly radio show called Talk'n Gauchos which airs every Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. on AM 1490 KIST. The show is broadcast live from State & A Bar and Grill, located on the corner of State Street and Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara. Fans are encouraged to attend the show for free gear and ticket giveaways or to even e-mail a question in to one of the guests and have it read live over the air. The show also airs live online via audio streaming and fans can click here to check out the entire lineup of live audio streaming online. Tuesday's guests include head coach Tim Vom Steeg and sophomore midfielder Danny Barrera.