This Week's Schedule
NCAA Tournament Second Round
Tuesday, November 22
No. 14 UC Santa Barbara (13-4-3)
at No. 13 Cal State Northridge (14-3-3)
1:00 p.m. at CSUN Matador Soccer Field
*will be broadcast on KCSB - 91.9 FM
Off on the Right Foot
UCSB's defense was stifling once again as it shutout No. 24 San Diego State 2-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday in Harder Stadium. After the Gauchos and Aztecs battled through a scoreless first half, senior forward Ivan Becerra scored what proved to be the game-winner in the 58th minute when he slid a pass from Andrew Proctor past SDSU's keeper inside the far post. Senior forward Jonathan Davis added an insurance marker in the 79th minute of play sending a rocket over the keeper's head from a seemingly impossible angle for the final 2-0 score. The Gauchos were very efficient defensively, as well, limiting the Aztecs to only three shots on goal and five overall. UCSB goalkeeper Kyle Reynish needed just three saves to record his ninth shutout of the season. The Gauchos are now 4-0 in tournament openers and are a perfect 5-0 at home in postseason play. Winners of six of their last seven matches and outscoring their opponents 14-4 during that span, Santa Barbara enters Tuesday match with Northridge with a 13-4-3 overall record.
Cal State Northridge Game Capsule
When you mention rivalry in terms of Gaucho soccer, one team comes to mind: Cal State Northridge. UCSB faces the Big West Champions in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Tuesday, November 22nd in Northridge with a trip to the Sweet 16, and conference bragging rights, on the line. The all-time series between the two programs has been extremely close over the years with one of these two programs winning the conference crown each of the last six seasons. In fact the Gauchos and Matadors' series is dead even at 11-11-4. Santa Barbara has a 0-1-1 record in two meetings against Northridge this season and will be looking for their first ever win at Matador Soccer Field. In their first matchup this season, the nationally televised match ended in a 2-2 deadlock at Harder Stadium October 8. CSUN then handed UCSB its only loss in conference play in a 1-0 affair November 2 in Northridge.
No. 13 Cal State Northridge enters Tuesday's match with a 14-3-3 overall record and received a first round bye in the NCAA Tournament. The 15th-seeded Matadors won six of their final seven regular season matches, en route to their second Big West Title in three years. Their .775 regular season winning percentage is tied for eighth in the nation. The conference champs also had 10 members receive All-Big West accolades in 2005, including Head Coach Terry Davila, who was named Co-Coach of the Year. CSUN has netted 38 goals this season to their opponents 17 and is averaging 1.84 goals per game. Matador Soccer Field has been a tough place for opponents to play this season, as Northridge posts an 8-1-1 home record.
All-Big West First Teamer Willie Sims directs the Matador offense and leads the team with eight goals, 19 points and 40 shots. Big West Goalkeeper of the Year Kevin Guppy has started every game between the pipes and comes into this week's match with a 0.83 goals against average and 63 saves. Daniel Paladini, the conference's Midfielfer of the Year, has been the go-to-guy in big matches this season, with six goals and three assists. Junior forward Ryan Rossi is second on the squad with 16 points on seven goals and two assists.
Rackin' `Em Up
A school-record nine players earned All-Big West Conference honors this season, tying the total set forth in 2002 and 2003. Highlighted by sophomore Andy Iro's Defender of the Year honors, UCSB's second straight, a total of six players were named to the first time, all-time high at UCSB. Midfielder Eric Avila, who was the third Gaucho in the last four years to be recognized as the Freshman of the Year, midfielder Tyler Rosenlund, midfielder Nate Boyden, defender Pat Scott, forward Ivan Becerra, and Iro were Santa Barbara's six first teamers. Garnering second team honors for UCSB was defender Chris Hughes, goalkeeper Kyle Reynish, and forward Bryan Byrne. The Gauchos posted a conference-best 0.80 goals against average and +1.16 scoring margin. Head coach Tim Vom Steeg was selected at the Big West's Coach of the Year for the second straight season, sharing the honor with conference champion Cal State Northridge's Terry Davila.
2004: Regular Blend
Coming off of the best season in Gaucho soccer history in 2004, expectations were very high for UC Santa Barbara in 2005. Starting the season with a No. 4 NSCAA preseason ranking, the highest in program history, the Gauchos got off to a rocky 0-1-1 start falling to then 20th-ranked Cal, before tying No. 6 Virginia. From there, Santa Barbara took off, winning six of its next seven with the lone setback coming in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of WCC power Loyola Marymount. The Gaucho defense was very strong against then No. 11 UCLA, limiting the Bruins to only two shots on goal in a tough 1-0 loss October 20th. The Big West Conference was as hotly contested this year as it has been the previous four seasons and its top two squads, Cal State Northridge and UCSB battled to a 2-2 draw October 8th in Harder Stadium. The Gauchos fell into second place in the conference standings after a 2-2 tie with UC Irvine October 14th and saw their second-straight Big West title hopes slip away after a 1-0 defeat in Northridge November 2nd, their lone loss in conference play. The Gauchos won five of their last six contests, including victories over UC Riverside and UC Irvine last week to wrap up a second place finish in the BWC. Overall, 2005 was a successful season for UCSB, with three of the Gauchos' four losses coming against teams that are currently ranked in the Top 20 of the NSCAA/adidas coaches' poll (UCLA and Cal are in the Top 10). All four losses have come against teams in the extremely strong Far West region and with the exception of Santa Barbara's 2-0 season-opening loss to the Golden Bears, their other three losses on the year were by a one-goal margin on the road. While the Gauchos have much to smile about looking back on the regular season, they are peaking when it matters most as they continue play in the NCAA Tournament this Tuesday.
The Rankings Game
After wrapping up the regular season with victories over Riverside and Irvine, UCSB entered the Big Dance with a No. 21 national ranking in the NSCAA/adidas Coaches' poll, up three spots from week eleven's position of 24. Santa Barbara spent the final seven weeks of the regular season in the Top 25 of the coaches' poll. Week eleven's strong finish also helped the Gauchos climb to the No. 15 spot in the Soccer Times coaches' poll, up two spots from the No. 17 position they held entering the final week of regular season play. In the media polls, UCSB comes in at 14 in the College Soccer News Top 30 National Poll.
That Special Time of Year
The Gauchos are participating in their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament as they continue play this Tuesday against Cal State Northridge. UCSB is a combined 7-3-0 in NCAA Tournament play dating back to 2002, the first season it qualified for the Big Dance and has been very impressive in tournament openers. In fact, Santa Barbara has been perfect, posting a 4-0-0 mark in opening rounds (first or second) of the tourney after Saturday's win over the Aztecs. As far as just second round matches go, the Gauchos are equally as successful at 2-1 all-time with a berth in the Sweet 16 on the line, having advanced their each of the past two seasons. UCSB's only loss in second round action came in its first NCAA Tournament on the road at Cal. Santa Barbara topped Cal the following season in Harder Stadium in the second round of 2003's tourney, and it beat Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a potential Sweet 16 opponent this season, 2-1 in overtime during last year's run. 2004 was definitely a year to remember, as the Gauchos were awarded the No. 9 seed and advanced to the National Championship match where they tied Indiana 1-1 after two overtime periods, before falling 3-2 in penalty kicks to end the season as the National Runners-Up.
While the 2005 Gauchos were considered young and inexperienced at the start of the season with a limited number of overall games played under their belts, they are an extremely experienced NCAA Tournament squad. Going into Saturday's first round match, UCSB roster had a combined 43 tournament games played between them. Now one game into the 2005 tourney, the Gauchos have a combined 59 pressure-packed NCAA Tournament games between them. Senior All-Big West midfielder Nate Boyden leads the way with eight career NCAA Tournament matches played. And it is not just as if these appearances where in "garbage" time late in the game, of the 59 combined appearances 38 of them are starts, nearly 65 percent. Jonathan Davis, Tyler Rosenlund, Andy Iro, Nate Boyden each have six tourney starts in their career, Bryan Bryne has five, and Jeff Murphy has three. Andrew Proctor has made six tournament showings, Ivan Becerra has played in five, and Chris Hughes has appeared in three, but all three made their first postseason starts in Saturday's 2-0 win. Kyle Reynish picked up his first tournament start in high fashion, posting a shutout in his second career tournament appearance. UCSB will also welcome back Brennan Tennelle this Tuesday who has each the box score in one. Of this group, they have combined for eight goals in postseason play, led by Davis with three and Iro with two, and followed by Becerra, Proctor and Byrne with one each. In one single game this past week Rosenlund tied for the lead on this squad with a pair of assists against the Aztecs, tying Becerra, although Becerra should have three, it was a rebound off his shot that Drew McAthy scored on in the National Championship game. Proctor also has an assist to his credit as he fed Becerra on the game-winner last weekend. The Gauchos' first time tournament participants this past weekend were Eric Frimpong, Eric Avila, Chris Pontius, Nick Perera, and Kyle Kaveny, with Avila and Pontius getting the starting nod. Needless to say, this team knows what it is like to not only play, but excel, under the pressure that is the NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship.
True To Form
It is safe to say that All-Big West First Team selection Tyler Rosenlund has returned to the form that earned him consideration for the MAC Hermann Trophy. After suffering an injury Septmeber 28, Rosenlund missed significant time this season recovering and saw his effectiveness wane. But the Canadian Youth National Team star has returned to the dominating force he was early in the year in the Gaucho midfield and looked very impressive in UCSB's last two matches. Rosenlund scored the game-winner and then added an assist propelling the Gauchos to a critical 2-0 win over visiting UC Irvine November 12th in the regular season finale. In Saturday's contest with San Diego State, he continued to set the table for his teammates, recording assists on both Gaucho goals. The Macy's/ucsbgauchos.com Athlete of the Week carried the ball into the box in the 58th minute before finding Andrew Proctor above the center of the box who, in turn, set up Becerra for the game-winning score. Later in the 79th minute, Rosenlund connected with Davis to put the Gauchos on top 2-0. The Port Coquitlam, B.C. native is now third on the team with 13 points off three goals and a conference-leading seven assists.
Santa Barbara will welcomg back senior midfielder Bryan Byrne Tuesday following his suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards. Saturday's first round win marked his first missed start of the season as he was just one of only two Gauchos to have started all 19 matches in the regular season. Finishing the regular season seventh in the Big West averaging 0.84 points per game, Byrne has proven to be one of UCSB's biggest and most consistent offensive weapons. Now second on the team and ranking third in conference with six assists after Rosenlund's outstanding performance against SDSU, he is also second on the team, and ninth in the Big West, with five goals. In fact, he was one of only two players in the BWC with at least five goals and five assists in the regular season. The Castledermot, Ireland native notched his sixth assist of the season against UC Riverside November 9th when he fed Andrew Proctor for the Gauchos' first score in the 22nd minute. Byrne, who is listed as a senior but will be returning for a fourth and final season in 2006, was named to this year's All-Big West Conference Second Team on last Tuesday.
Still a Freshman?
Freshman midfielder Eric Avila has more than met expectations this year and was recognized as the 2005 Freshman of the Year by the Big West Conference, carrying the torch lit by Andy Iro last season. The U.S. Under-17 National Team standout has definitely been a key member of the Gaucho offense this season and is currently fourth on the team with 11 points, three goals and five assists, and is the lone Gaucho field player to have started all 20 games this season. UCSB has a 7-0-1 record when the San Diego native shows up in the scoring column. Avila created a number of quality scoring opportunities against the Anteaters and had two good looks himself, but was denied on great saves from the UCI keeper. He recorded a total of five shots in the two contests against Riverside and Irvine in the final week of regular season play and ranks ninth in the Big West with 39 total shots and a 1.95 shots per game average. His five assists are tied for fourth in the conference.
Not So Second
Junior goalkeeper Kyle Reynish has been getting the job done all season long between the pipes, and has stepped up as a leader in the UCSB backfield. He has played every one of the total 1880 minutes in goal in 2005 and has recorded 60 saves, which is the fourth-most in the Big West. Reynish leads the conference with a 0.77 goals against average and also boasts a conference-best .789 save percentage. His nine shutouts this year, which ranks as the third-best season ever for a UCSB keeper, also leads the conference. The Valencia, Calif. native picked up his ninth after making three saves against SDSU for his first career playoff shutout, giving him sole possession of the No. 3 spot. Reynish, who joins teammates Bryan Byrne and Chris Hughes on the 2005 All-Big West Second Team, has now held the opposition to one goal or less in 15 of UCSB's 20 matches.
The Century Mark
Head coach Tim Vom Steeg added another notch to his belt on Saturday, earning his 100th victory as the head coach of the Gauchos. As if he has not had enough feathers placed in his cap in the recent years, including two consecutive Big West Coach of the Year awards, the 2004 NSCAA National Coach of the Year reached the historic milestone with the 2-0 win over San Diego State. In addition, Vom Steeg made it four-for-four in NCAA Tournament-opening games and his teams are now 5-0 all-time in the postseason at home. Entering this season as the Gauchos ninth winningest active coach in Division one, his 100th win came in just his seventh season. Currently he holds a 100-37-10 career record with the Gauchos for a .714 winning percentage, much higher than any other coach in school history. The next highest is Andy Kuenzli at .586, Vom Steeg's coach when he was a player at UCSB. In fact, when the Gauchos top UC Davis 3-2 in week nine Vom Steeg passed Kuenzli for the most wins in school history, eclipsing the previous high of 95.
Hit'em Hard, Hit'em Early
It was touched on in two weeks ago, last week, it will be again this week about how successful UCSB is when scoring the first goal, and last two week's performances have proved just that. Playing with a new starting lineup not seen all season enter the final week of regular season play, the Gauchos put together three of their best halves of play all season, jumping out to an early lead at UC Riverside and dominating UC Irvine. Then against the Aztecs in last week's first round they played their best game of the season. And in all three matches, Santa Barbara netted the first goal of the game. With the loss three weeks ago to Cal State Northridge after allowing the matches' only goal less than 14 minutes in, UCSB only loss in its last seven contests, it rebounded against UCR with their first goal in the 22nd minute in the 3-1 win off the foot of Andrew Proctor. It took a little longer against UCI, but Tyler Rosenlund netted what proved to be the game-winner in the 47th in the Gauchos' 2-0 win. And as expected when playing the nation's No. 2 ranked defense, it took the longest, as Ivan Becerra netted the game-winner in the 58th minute of an assist from Proctor and Rosenlund. UCSB is now 12-1-0 when they hit the scoreboard first, as opposed to 1-3-2 when their opponents do. It appears by the performance they have been giving lately, outshooting the opposition 47-18 in their last three contests, that the Gauchos are turning the tide in their favor. Prior to the last two week,s, UCSB's opposition held the advantage in first goals scored at 5-3 in its last eight games played, a streak in which it went 4-2-2, yet it held the lead for just 76:04 of 779:19 minutes played (9.8%). However, in its first nine games of the season, Santa Barbara scored the matches first goal in seven, winning all seven matches and going 7-1-1, which is what the last two week are more inline with. Going back to UCSB's match with Cal State Fullerton, it has scored the first goal in four of the last five, going 4-1-0 with the lone loss being the 1-0 affair at Northridge. Of the last 450:00 minutes played, the Gauchos have held the lead for 187:38, or 41.7% of the time, a stark contrast to what they entered the final week of regular season play with.
The strength of UCSB's defense has been a major factor in the Gauchos becoming one of the nation's premier programs, and 2005 squad has been no different. As opposed to recent years where it seemed as if the same four of five defenders played every minute of every match, this year's unit has featured a number of different players with central defender Andy Iro, midfielder Nate Boyden, and goalkeeper Kyle Reynish being the three mainstays, this year's defense it has proven to be just as stout. Having suited up the same starting lineup in consecutive weeks just the first time this season last week, the D-unit has allowed just 16 goals this year, boasting an average of just 0.77 goals allowed per game, currently the fourth best mark in school history. In fact, since the Big West reinstated men's soccer and UCSB broke onto the national scene in 2000, only last year's 0.56 opponent goals per game average is better than this team's current mark. Sporting a conference-best goals against average of 0.77, junior goalkeeper Kyle Reynish and the rest of the defense are flirting with the nation's top 20 which currently sits at 0.73 GAA. On the season, the Gaucho defense limited the opposition to a meager .086 shot percentage, allowing just 35.5% of the opposition's 186 total shots to reach the frame (66). Of Santa Barbara's current starting defenders, Boyden and Iro, a Preseason All-American, have started all but one of the Gauchos' 19 regular season matches, the most among Santa Barbara's defensive players, helping both to earn First Team All-Big West Honors. They were both serving red card suspensions during UCSB's 0-0 tie against then No. 6, and current No. 17, Virginia September 4. Reynish is just one of two players (Avila) to have started all 20 matches for the Gauchos this season, playing all 1879 minutes between the pipes with a Big West-leading .789 save percentage. With addition of Chris Hughes midway through the season and Jeff Murphy in recent weeks, UCSB's defense has combined to limit the opposition to a meager six combined shots on goal and 18 shots overall in its last three matches.
Not Just Your Average Crowd
Why they don't just hold the entire NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championships at Harder Stadium I don't know. The Santa Barbara soccer community once again showed itself to one of, if not the, top fan bases in the nation as 3,453 fans came to watch the Gauchos and Aztecs square off in last Saturday's first round. It was the largest attendance of any first round matches. Dating back to UCSB's first-ever NCAA Tourney match in 2002 against the University of San Diego, the Gauchos have had one of largest contingencies of fans for their home playoff matches. In that first-ever match against USD, Harder Stadium was filled with 3,420 screaming supporters. In 2003's second round match against Cal, they drew 1,501 on a bitterly cold Wednesday night one-day prior to Thanksgiving, their smallest tournament crowd. Then came last year's outstanding support which saw 2,520 fans for Santa Barbara's second round match against UWM, and an NCAA Preliminary Round record 11,215 fans for its Elite Eight match against VCU. Now with a perfect 5-0-0 home record in NCAA Tournament play, UCSB has a total home attendance of 22,109, for an average of 4,422 fans per game.