Gauchos Open NCAA Tournament Play at Home on Thursday

Nov. 17, 2010

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• The Schedule
Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 7 pm

UC Santa Barbara (13-4-3) vs. Denver (9-6-4)
Series record vs. Pioneers: 2-1-0
Last meeting: L, 1-0 (Oct. 7, 2007)
Streak vs. Pioneers: Lost 1
Game available on Gametracker
Broadcast LIVE on AM 1290 and UCSBgauchos.com

• Gauchos Set To Make Ninth NCAA Tournament Appearance
UC Santa Barbara has advanced to its ninth consecutive NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship and will host Denver - which received an at-large berth - in the first round of the tournament on Thursday. This is the ninth time that the Gauchos have been awarded hosting duties for their opening round game in the NCAA Tournament. UCSB has played in the second round of the championship every year either by merit of a first round bye or first round win.

• Get Your Tickets Now!
Tickets to the Gauchos' NCAA Tournament First Round game, which will be played at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium at 7 pm, can be purchased by calling (805) 893-UCSB, visiting the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or online by clicking here. Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets online and print their ticket at home to skip lines at the ticket booth on game day. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth, high school and college students.

• How We Got Here
UCSB received an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament after defeating Cal State Fullerton, 3-1, on Saturday in the Big West Championship. The tournament title is UCSB's first since the league started hosting a championship in 2008; the last time the Gauchos' received the Big West's automatic berth was during the 2007 season.

• Gauchos In The NCAA Tournament
UCSB has posted a 15-6-2 record in its previous eight NCAA tournaments. The Gauchos have twice advanced to the College Cup Final (2004 and 2006) and won the program's first national title in 2006. In seven of their eight NCAA Tournament appearances, the Gauchos have won at least one game.

• Home Sweet Harder
UCSB has posted a 9-1-1 record in matches at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium this season and has won its last nine at home. The Gauchos have posted a 9-1-0 record in NCAA Tournament matches held at Harder Stadium with their lone loss coming in double overtime against Cal during a second round game in 2008. UCSB has gone 237-119-40 (.649) all-time at Harder Stadium and 92-23-13 (.770) since Tim Vom Steeg took over the program in 1999.

• Pulse On The Polls
UCSB is currently ranked in the top-25 of five national polls. The Gauchos' highest current rank is No. 8 by Soccer America, which marks the first time since Sept. 7 that UCSB has been ranked in any poll's top-10.

• Gauchos Dominate Big West Awards
The Big West Conference announced its year-end awards on Tuesday and the Gauchos claimed at least a portion of all six major awards. Junior Danny Barrera repeated as the Big West Midfielder of the Year and senior Sam Hayden picked up his second straight Big West Goalkeeper of the Year honor. Senior Michael Boxall was picked as the Defensive Player of the Year while sophomore Sam Garza was named Co-Offensive Player of the Year, sharing the honor with UC Irvine's Amani Walker. Forward David Opoku was selected as Freshman of the Year. Rounding out the honors is head coach Tim Vom Steeg, who won his third Coach of the Year nod. Sophomore defender Machael David and junior midfielder Luis Silva joined Barrera, Boxall, Garza and Hayden on the All-Big West First Team. Opoku and junior defender Peter McGlynn earned All-Big West Second Team accolades and junior defender Chris Hunter was an honorable mention selection.

• Silva Earns National Recognition, Named Big West Tournament MVP
Junior midfielder Luis Silva tallied the eventual game-winning goal in the 23rd minute of Saturday's Big West Championship game. For his heroics, he was selected as the Big West Tournament MVP and was also named to the TopDrawerSoccer.com Men's Team of the Week for the second straight week. The Los Angeles, Calif. native now has six goals on the season, which is tied second on the team with David Opoku. He is third on the team in points with 16 (6 goals, 4 assists). His three game-winning goals are the most on the team.

• Gaucho Goals
UCSB currently ranks 24th nationally for scoring offense with an average of 1.9 goals per game and currently ranks 13th nationally for total goals (38). UCSB has been held to one or no goals on just six occasions and only once at home: Sept. 7 vs. Creighton.

• Defensive Behavior
The Gauchos have limited their opposition to an average of 0.75 goals per match, which is tied as the fourth lowest all-time in the UCSB record books with the 2009 squad. UCSB is ranked 19th nationally for lowest goals against average (0.71), 27th for shutout percentage (.450) and 47th for save percentage (.810).

• Taking Shots
UCSB has out-shot its competition in every contest this year and has held the advantage for shots in its last 23 consecutive contests, dating back to its 2009 NCAA First Round game against Wofford (Nov. 19, 2009). The Gauchos are averaging 16.1 shots per game.

• Working Overtime
Wednesday's semifinal game marked the Gauchos' eighth this season to go into overtime. UCSB improved to 2-3-3 in extra time this year with all but three of those contests taking place on the road. The Gauchos' eight overtime games are the most by the program since the 2004 season when they also played eight. UCSB has gone 2-3-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament overtime contests.

• Spreading The Wealth
When sophomore Josue Madueno scored his first career goal in the 68th minute against Fullerton on Saturday, he became the 14th Gaucho to post a goal this season. UCSB's 14 goal scorers this year are the most in the last decade; the 2004, 2005 and 2008 teams each had 13 players score at least one goal.

• Super Sam
Two-time Big West Goalkeeper of the Year, Sam Hayden, is currently on-pace to set the UCSB and conference record for career goals against average at 0.73. He is tied for third in UCSB history with Kyle Reynish (2003-06) for career shutouts with 24 - he would need three more to tie second-ranked Steve Tipping (1979-83) - and tied sixth in the Big West annuls. This season, the senior ranks 21st nationally with his 0.72 goals against average and he ranks 41st with his .814 saves percentage.

• Garza Knows Goals
Surely the most obvious storyline for this Thursday's match with Denver will be the pitting of sophomore Sam Garza against his former team. The sophomore forward, who spent one season with the Pioneers, leads the Gauchos with his nine goals and 24 points. His six assists are second on the team. He ranks 38th nationally among Division I players for goals (9), 34th for total points (24), 52nd for goals per game (0.47) and 40th for points per game (1.26). His 69 shots this season rank 10th all-time in the UCSB single season records. Garza is on-pace to become the first underclassman to lead UCSB for goals in a season since Jaime Ambriz tied for the team-lead (8) as a sophomore in 1999 and he could be the first underclassman to lead the team in points since Danny Mann did it in 1995 with 22.

• Freshman Phenom
After scoring the equalizer and assisting the game-winner against Cal Poly in the Big West semifinal game, David Opoku is now second on the squad with 17 points (6 goals, 5 assists). He is one of four players on the team - along with Danny Barrera, Nic Ryan and Joe Eubanks - to score two game-winning goals this year.

• Happy To Help You
Two-time Big West Midfielder of the Year, Danny Barrera, leads the Gauchos and ranks second in the conference with seven assists. He scored his fourth goal of the season on Saturday against Fullerton. The junior is tied for seventh on the UCSB career list and is eighth all-time in Big West lore with his 21 career assists.

• The Vom Steeg File
In his 12th year leading the Gauchos, head coach Tim Vom Steeg is the winningest coach in Big West history. Vom Steeg has posted a 170-65-25 record at the helm of UCSB and a 149-48-24 record since the program rejoined the Big West in 2001. Vom Steeg is also the winningest coach in UCSB men's soccer history and has turned the Gauchos into an annual national title contender. The 2004 and 2006 NSCAA National Coach of the Year, Vom Steeg guided the Gauchos to the NCAA title in 2006 and the championship game in 2004. He has guided UCSB to five Big West regular season titles in the past nine years and nine consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. He won Big West Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2004, 2005 and 2010 and has produced 15 All-Americans.

• The Match-Up
Denver - which won the MPSF regular season title - is led by Jarod Stigall's 26 points (9 goals, 8 assists). The Pioneers average 1.53 goals per game and average 12.6 shots per game. Joe Willis has posted a 6-3-2 record in the goal and leads the team with his 0.70 goals against average and four shutouts. Denver has been impressive in road games, posting a 4-1-2 record. The Pioneers are making their second NCAA appearance under head coach Bobby Muuss, they also made the 2008 field. The winner of Thursday's match will travel to No. 6 seed Cal for a Sunday match-up with the Golden Bears.

• College Cup Tickets On Sale
UCSB is the proud host of the 2010 NCAA Men's College Cup, which will take place Dec. 10 and 12 at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. This marks the first time since the 2004 season that the Cup has been held on the West Coast. All-Session passes for the College Cup can be purchased by calling (805) 893-UCSB, visiting the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or buy online by clicking here.