Ranked for First Time Since 1992, No. 21 Gauchos Host Sacramento State

Ranked for First Time Since 1992, No. 21 Gauchos Host Sacramento State

Sept. 3, 2008

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The Schedule
Sunday, September 7, 2008 at 1:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Sacramento State
at UCSB’s Harder Stadium

Friday, September 12, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Washington State
at UCSB’s Harder Stadium

Coming Up
On Friday, Sept. 12, when UCSB hosts Washington State, it will be Santa Barbara News-Press Night at Harder Stadium.  Everyone in attendance will receive a free travel mug, courtesy of the News-Press.  It will also be AYSO Night, Youth Group Night, and Kids to College Night.  Finally, their will be an autograph session following the match.

Rank and File
UC Santa Barbara has entered the Soccer Buzz Magazine national poll at No. 21.  This marks the first time since the 1992 season that the Gauchos have been ranked in any of the national polls.  UCSB also received 27 points in the NSCAA/adidas poll, good for 31st.  Regionally, the Gauchos are ranked sixth by Soccer Buzz Magazine and seventh in the NSCAA/adidas ranking. 

The Gaucho Record
UCSB will enter Sunday’s game against Sacramento State with a 3-1 record.  The Gauchos went 2-1 last week, posting a pair of last-minute wins over West Coast Conference schools San Diego and Pepperdine, and losing a tough 2-1 decision at top-ranked UCLA.  

On The Stumpf
Paul Stumpf is in his 10th season as the head coach at UC Santa Barbara. He enters this week’s action with a record of 90-70-21. His total of 88 wins ranks second on UCSB’s all-time list. Last season, he guided the Gauchos to a 6-10-4 overall record, including a 3-4-1 record in the Big West.  Stumpf has led the program to records of .500 or better in six of the last eight seasons, including, at one point, four straight seasons of 10 or more victories, the first time the program accomplished that feat since 1988-91.  In 1999, Stumpf’s first season as the head coach at UCSB, he took a team that was selected to finish last in the conference, but instead posted an 8-9-1 overall record and a 5-4 mark in the Big West. Following the season, he was chosen as the Big West’s Coach of the Year.  He has, in fact, guided the Gauchos to a top-three league finish in six of the last eight seasons, and twice he has led the program to regular season championships.  Before arriving in Santa Barbara as an assistant coach in 1998, Stumpf spent two seasons as an assistant at Humboldt State. In addition, the San Diego native spent several years coaching club teams in the Santa Rosa area.

• UCSB Picked to Win Big West
UCSB, which finished fifth in the Big West standings in 2007, has been chosen to win the league’s 2008 regular season crown in a poll of the nine coaches.  The Gauchos collected four first-place votes and a total of 74 points to edge Long Beach State, which garnered three first-place votes and 73 total points.  The 49ers are a two-time defending league regular season champ.  Cal Poly had a pair of first-place votes and 62 points, while Cal State Fullerton, which has won the last two Big West Tournaments, had 60 points.

That’s Why They Play 90, Not 88
UCSB has won back-to-back matches, and each has been a thriller.  In Friday’s home opener, the Gauchos and San Diego took a scoreless tie into the final minute before freshman defender Alyssa Benjamin knocked home the game-winning goal with 41 seconds remaining.  In Sunday’s victory at Pepperdine, UCSB’s Jacqui Simon broke a 2-2 tie with a goal in the 89th-minute.  The score, which gave the Gauchos a 3-2 win, was Simon’s second of the match.

Worthy Goals
The Gauchos have scored nine goals through their first four games, and while the pace is hardly the equivalent of last year’s New England Patriots, it marks significant progress from a year ago.  In 2007, UCSB scored a total of 19 goals in its 20 contests.  Through the first four matches of the campaign, the Gauchos had a total of three goals.  They did not score their fourth goal until the sixth game, and they didn’t score their ninth goal until their eighth.  Only once during the 2007 season did Santa Barbara go four consecutive games without suffering a shutout. 

Simon Says
As a freshman in 2007, Jacqui Simon was forced to play primarily on the forward line.  A midfielder by trade, Simon finished the year with two goals and one assist for five points.  In 2008, as a sophomore, Simon is back playing in the midfield for the Gauchos.  She has started all four matches, and on Sunday at Pepperdine, she had the best match of her career.  In UCSB’s 3-2 win over the Waves, Simon had two goals and an assist for five points, her total output of 2007.  Her second goal came in the 89th-minute and gave her team the win.  Simon had one assist entering the match against Pepperdine and now has a pair of goals, two assists and six points, tops on the team.  She has also surpassed her point total of 2007.  Finally, the Torrance, Calif., native leads the team with 11 shots overall, five of which have been on goal, also tops on the team. 

It’s All About Benjamin
Freshman defender Alyssa Benjamin picked a great time to score the first goal of her career.  In Friday’s tussle with nationally-ranked San Diego, the teams were scoreless into the final minute, but Benjamin’s score with 41 ticks left gave the Gauchos their first win over a nationally-ranked team this season.    

Former Waves Crests on her Old Teammates
Like Alyssa Benjamin, sophomore forward Kylie McDonald picked an opportune time to score her first UCSB goal.  While McDonald’s goal was not nearly as dramatic as Benjamin’s game-winner against USD, it did have its own element of drama.  A transfer from Pepperdine, the Westlake Village, Calif., native tallied her first Gaucho goal against the Waves.  McDonald, who also assisted on Benjamin’s goal against San Diego, had two goals and an assist while at Pepperdine as a freshman in 2007.

A Well-Stocked Arsenal
Through four matches, UCSB has scored nine goals.  One player, sophomore midfielder Jacqui Simon, has scored two goals and seven others have scored at least one.  In all, nine different Gauchos have scored at least one point through the first four outings.  Simon, Kailyn Kugler, and Michelle Russell each lead the team with a pair of assists.    

The Defensive Lowdown
The Gauchos improved offense has not overshadowed their long-time strength, defense.  Santa Barbara has allowed four goals in four matches, recording a pair of shutouts.  The defensive unit of Rachael Ritchey, Julia Speace, Alexa Stringer, Alyssa Oldham, and Alyssa Benjamin, along with goalkeeper Tammy Lenham, has been outstanding.  Not only has the group allowed just four goals in four matches, two of which were against highly-ranked opponents, but it has allowed just 16 shots on goal, an average of a mere four per game.  UCSB goalkeepers have needed just 12 saves through four matches. 

A Little Home Cooking Then a Long Trip
UCSB had better enjoy its time at home.  The Gauchos play their next three games at Harder Stadium, hosting Sacramento State (Sept. 7), Washington State (Sept. 12), and Washington State (Sept. 14), before embarking on one of the longest road trips in recent memory.  After the Sept. 14 contest against Tennessee, the Gauchos will not make another Harder Stadium appearance until Oct. 10 against Cal State Northridge.  UCSB will play six matches away from home, five true road matches and one at a neutral site, in three states.  The Gauchos will play Montana (at Hawai’i), Hawai’i, Arizona State, Arizona, UC Riverside, and Cal State Fullerton before returning to Harder Stadium.