August 10, 2006

Gauchos Tabbed to Finish Third in Big West's Preseason Women's Soccer Poll

Aug. 10, 2006

IRVINE, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara was tabbed to finish third in the 2006 Big West women's soccer standings in a poll of the league's eight coaches, it was announced Wednesday.

The Gauchos, who finished 9-10-0 overall and 3-4 in league play in 2005, return most of their key players in 2006. In addition, UCSB returns two players who started in 2004 but redshirted last season, a highly touted recruiting class and a pair of talented transfers.

Santa Barbara's top returnee is sophomore forward Genelle Ives. The 2005 Big West co-Freshman of the Year and a Second Team All-Big West selection, Ives paced the Gauchos in scoring with six goals and six assists for 18 points. Senior Allie Kueny, nursing a knee injury at the outset of training camp, had three goals and a league-leading eight assists for 14 points. In addition, senior midfielder Darci Gwartz, an honorable mention All-Big West choice in 2005, is back to anchor the middle.

Senior midfielder Kristyn Bright and sophomore defender Jessie Steinberg each redshirted the 2005 season after starting the entire 2004 season. They will be key to UCSB's chances in 2006. Chandi Bickford, a senior forward, was limited to seven appearances in 2005 because of injuries, she too will be counted on in 2006.

Head coach Paul Stumpf, entering his eighth year at UCSB, also welcomes one of his best recruiting classes. The incoming group was ranked among the nation's top-45 by Soccer Buzz Magazine. Also, two talented transfers, junior goalkeeper Katie Wright (Nebraska) and forward Heather Young (Ohio State) will figure prominently.

Although they did not receive a first-place vote, he Gauchos received 42 points in the poll, edging Cal Poly, which had one first-place vote and 41 points to finish fourth. For the first time in school history, Long Beach State was selected to win the Big West women's soccer championship. The 49ers return all 11 starters from last season's club that went 12-5-3 and made their inaugural appearance in the Big West Tournament. Long Beach State received three first-place votes and totaled 56 points. Cal State Fullerton collected two first-place votes and 48 points for second place in the poll. The Titans finished the 2005 season ranked as high as 11th nationally, and reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

Pacific picked-up the remaining first-place vote and came in fifth with 35 points, edging sixth place UC Riverside by just one point. Rounding out the poll were Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine with 20 and 12 points, respectively.

The Big West finished fourth among 30 conferences in the 2005 Women's Soccer Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) thanks to a 60-30-8 record against non-conference opponents and an overall Division I winning percentage of 58.7 percent that bettered any other conference. Fifteen of the 25 players who comprised last year's all-conference first and second teams suit up again in 2006.

Finally, the top four teams in regular season standing at the end of the 2006 season will advance to the Big West Tournament. The team that finishes in first place will host the tourney to determine the league's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament.

UCSB will open the 2006 regular season on Aug. 25 when they travel to USC.

2006 Women's Soccer Coaches
Preseason Poll Results

No. School Pts. 1. Long Beach State (3) 56 2. Cal State Fullerton (2) 48 3. UC Santa Barbara 42 4. Cal Poly (2) 41 5. Pacific (1) 35 6. UC Riverside 34 7. Cal State Northridge 20 8. UC Irvine 12

( ) First-place votes