No. 19 UCSB Faces No. 8 UC Irvine for Big West Title

Nov. 13, 2008

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• The Schedule
Saturday, November 15, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. No. 19 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 8 UC Irvine (13-1-6) at UC Irvine's Anteater Field Game broadcast on KCSB 91.9 FM and streaming online at kcsb.org Game available on Gametracker

• Third Time's a Charm
By defeating No. 3 seed Cal Poly in a penalty kick shootout on Wednesday, second-seeded UCSB moves on to the Big West Tournament's championship match on Saturday vs. No. 1 seeded UC Irvine. It will be the third time the Gauchos and Anteaters have played this season, with the teams splitting the first two meetings. After playing Cal Poly three times and now UC Irvine three times, it is the first time in the program's history that UCSB has faced two teams three times in a season.

• The Match-Up
UCSB handed Irvine its lone loss of the season, a 2-1 defeat at Anteater Field on Oct. 4 with goals by Nick Perera and Alfonso Motagalvan. Irvine returned the favor, defeating the Gauchos 3-1 on Nov. 1 at Harder Stadium, erasing a 1-0 UCSB lead.

• Lucky No. 7
By advancing to the Big West Tournament final, combined with their top-25 ranking in all five collegiate soccer polls and their No. 9 RPI ranking, UCSB has all but assured itself of making the NCAA Tournament for the seventh consecutive season. The Gauchos' current run of six straight NCAA appearances is the eighth-longest active run, tied with Old Dominion. UCLA leads all active schools with 25 straight NCAA Tournament appearances. The tournament's selection show airs on Monday at 3 p.m. PST on ESPNews.

• Nick of Time
After scoring both of UCSB's goals in the semifinal match vs. Cal Poly, Nick Perera has equaled his career-best for goals in a season with seven. It was the second time this season and the third time in his career that Perera has scored two goals in a match. The Madrid, Spain native is one point away from tying his career-high in points, which is 18 set in 2006.

• RPI Ranking
UCSB's RPI - released on Nov. 10 - is No. 9 in the nation, which is the highest mark among all Big West schools. The Gauchos had trailed UC Davis in the first two RPI polls released earlier this season, but the Aggies fell to 15 as the Gauchos rose from No. 14. Two teams the Gauchos have played - Indiana and Wake Forest - rank first and third, respectively, in the latest RPI rankings. UC Irvine's RPI in the last poll is No. 24 in the nation.

• Crowd Count
After drawing 9,749 in last week's match against Cal Poly, UCSB can now lay claim to hosting three of the nation's all-time top-10 regular season crowds in NCAA history. UCSB is the only NCAA school with that distinction. Wednesday's mark stands as the fourth-largest attended game ever. The Gauchos have played in four of the top-10 (see chart on Page 1), including three of those games this season.

• Goal-less in Santa Barbara
Until Nick Perera scored at 63:00 vs. Cal Poly, UCSB had gone 367 minutes, 31 seconds without a goal, spanning back to their Nov. 1 loss to UC Irvine when Peter McGlynn scored just 5:29 into that game. That was the Gauchos' longest dry spell since the team was shut out in consecutive games from Sept. 23-27, 2006.

• Re-Writing History
With his 13th goal this season in the win over Cal State Northridge and an assist in the 3-1 loss to UC Irvine, senior Chris Pontius continues to etch his name in the UCSB history books. The goal, which set a career-high, ties him for eighth all-time for goals in a season. That gives the forward 28 goals for his career, tying him for fifth all-time with current assistant coach Neil Jones' mark set between 2001-04. Pontius has 65 career points, which is seventh all-time in Gaucho history. The goal vs. the Matadors also was the fifth straight game Pontius has scored a goal, a personal best and tied for the second-longest run in UCSB history. Pontius has taken 104 shots this year, second-most by a Gaucho in a single season and his 184 career shots is fifth all-time.

• Info on Irvine
UC Irvine entered this week ranked as high as No. 8 by the NSCAA and were slotted no lower than 18th in any of the five national polls. Seeded first in the Big West Tournament, the Anteaters are led by Matt Murphy, who has 29 points (11 goals, seven assists) and Spencer Thompson with 21 points (eight goals, five assists). Goalkeeper Andrew Fontein allows just 0.91 goals per match and has posted four shutouts this season. Overall, the Gauchos are 30-12-3 vs. Irvine all-time.

• Points for Pontius
Entering this week, Chris Pontius, a Hermann Trophy candidate, ranks 22nd nationally in goals per game (0.68) and 25th in the nation in points per game (1.58), both of those marks rank second in the Big West behind UC Davis' Quincy Amarikwa, whom he trails in goals, 15-13. Pontius leads the Big West in shots per game with 4.89 and is tied for third in game-winning goals with three. He has already surpassed his goal and points totals (11 and 24) from last season when he was named the Big West's Offensive Player of the Year.

• Hard Luck at Harder
UCSB has lost three games at home this season, the most defeats at Harder Stadium since the 2000 season when they went 3-5-1. Overall the Gauchos are 75-19-12 at home under Tim Vom Steeg and despite the 4-3-2 mark there this year, UCSB holds a 29-7-8 home record since the start of the 2005 season.

• Gauchos' Goals
With 35 goals through their first 19 games, UCSB was 34th in the nation in goals per game and tied for tops in the conference, averaging 1.84. Within the Big West, the Gauchos lead UC Irvine for the most goals, are second in points per game with 5.21 and the team's 29 assists are third in the league. UCSB's 350 shots are easily the most in the Big West.

• Otii's O-For Over
It had been a long time coming when Bongomin Otii scored his first goal this season during the victory over CSUN. The Denver, Colo. native scored on a breakaway for a 2-1 advantage, his first goal since Oct. 14, 2006. A 2006 Second Team All-Big West selection, Otii remains the only player in school history to score five goals in his first five games, which he did in 2006.