No. 15 UCSB Awaits CSUN in Big West Tournament Semifinal

Will Baynham (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Will Baynham (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
The Schedule
Big West Tournament Semifinal
Saturday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m
[2] No. 15 UC Santa Barbara vs [3] UC Irvine OR [6] CSUN
UC Irvine (7-6-5, 4-2-1 Big West, 3-3-4 away)
All-time record vs. the Anteaters (W-L-T): 37-18-6
Record vs. the Anteaters in the Big West Tournament: 0-4-0
Last meeting: Oct. 19, 2019: UC Irvine 2, at UCSB 1 (OT)
CSUN (7-7-3, 2-3-2 Big West, 3-3-1 away)
All-time record vs. the Matadors (W-L-T): 25-16-6
Record vs. the Matadors in the Big West Tournament: 1-1-0
Last meeting: Oct. 26, 2019: at CSUN 0, UCSB 0 (2OT)
• Video Stream Available will offer a live video broadcast of the Big West Tournament semifinal on Saturday through BigWest.TV. The "Voice of the Gauchos" Gerry Fall will be on play-by-play duties, while current Gaucho student-athlete Carson Vom Steeg will provide color commentary throughout the broadcast. An audio-only stream will be available via KCSB-FM 91.9, UCSB's student radio station.
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Follow the @UCSBMensSoccer account on Twitter for highlights and more from this weekend's game.
• Tournament Time
The final regular season matches were played, scenarios were run (and re-run and re-run again), a regular season champion was crowned, and now the knockout rounds are set to begin. The Gauchos finished with the second seed in the Big West Tournament, and will be awaiting the result of the first-round match between No. 3 UC Irvine and No. 6 CSUN to find out who will be coming to Harder Stadium on Saturday night.
• Tournament Stats and Fast Facts
The Gauchos are winless in their past three opening round matchups, all of which took place at home (2016 semifinal vs Cal State Fullerton, 2017 first round vs UC Riverside, 2018 first round vs Cal State Fullerton).
The Gauchos are 4-3-1 in semifinal matches in the Big West Tournament since the competition's inception in 2008.
UCSB has never traveled to another site for its first match in the Big West Tournament, staying at home for either the first round or semifinal in each of its 10 appearances in the tournament.
If UC Davis is to win their semifinal match earlier in the day on Saturday, the Aggies would host the Big West Tournament final at 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15 instead of Saturday, Nov. 16 due to a scheduling conflict with a UC Davis football game. This would also be the case if Cal Poly were to host the Big West Tournament final.
• The Gaucho Rewind, Matchday 18
The Gauchos closed out the season with a 2-0 win at central coast rivals Cal Poly. Will Baynham and Rodney Michael combined on both scores, though Baynham did not receive credit for the second goal as it was ruled an own goal. Though the Gauchos were outshot 19-3 throughout the match, Ben Roach's season and career-high ten saves helped UCSB record its ninth clean sheet of the season. The Gauchos' win meant they swept the regular season series over Cal Poly for the first time since 2006.
• Road Warriors
In eight games away from Harder Stadium this season, the Gauchos have yet to lose. UCSB has accumulated five wins and three draws throughout the year, in stark contrast to its 1-6-1 record on the road last season.The team has outscored opponents 14-4 in this run, which includes the final three games of Big West play (at UC Davis, at CSUN, at Cal Poly).
• Scouting the Opposition: UC Irvine
UC Irvine is coming off of a loss at home against CSUN in its final match of the regular season, a result that saw it lose out on both a share of the Big West regular season title and a top-two bye in the Big West Tournament. Irvine defeated the Gauchos in overtime in the regular season, snapping UCSB's 11-game unbeaten run. Oscar Cervantes scored in the 95th minute of that game to deal the Gauchos the blow. The Anteaters played an extremely difficult non-conference schedule, facing three top-10 teams in their first four games. Irvine is led by head coach Yossi Raz and his emphasis on playing possession-based soccer and building out of the back.
• Scouting the Opposition: CSUN
CSUN is coming off of a win away at UC Irvine in its final match of the regular season, a result that saw it qualify for the Big West Tournament for the fifth year in a row. Just a week and a half ago (Oct. 26), CSUN and UCSB played out a scoreless draw at Matador Field in Northridge, with the Gauchos controlling 58% of the possession in that game. CSUN is led by Johnny Rodriguez and Daniel Trejo, a threatening duo that have eight goals apiece. CSUN is tied for second, along with UCSB, in yellow cards earned with 38.
• Olympic Kiwis
Senior right wingback Noah Billingsley and junior centerback Hunter Ashworth were successful in representing New Zealand U-23 at the Oceania Football Confederation U-23 Championship in Fiji, winning the tournament after defeating Solomon Islands 5-0 in the final. The Kiwi duo helped their home country qualify for its first Olympics since 2012 at the tournament. In the "Oly-Whites'" final match of the group stage, Billingsley started and scored in New Zealand's comeback 4-2 win against the Solomon Islands.
• Back in the Rankings
Following the Gauchos' 3-3 draw with No. 1 Stanford, UCSB started to get attention in the national polls. On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, Santa Barbara were ranked or receiving votes in all four polls for the first time since 2016, ranked as high as No. 18 in the Top Drawer Soccer poll. Now in the rankings for their sixth-straight week, the Gauchos remain fully ranked in all four polls. The Gauchos are back in the top 15 in the United Soccer Coaches poll with the no. 15 ranking, while Soccer America and College Soccer News follow closely behind with their evaluation of the team with the 16 and 17-spots, respectively. Top Drawer Soccer considers UCSB the 22nd-best team in the country.
• Top Drawer Players
On Oct. 21, Rodney Michael was selected to the Top Drawer Soccer Midseason Top 100 and Finn Ballard McBride made it on the publication's Freshman Midseason Top 100 list. Michael clocks in at no. 9 on the list, improving on his No. 67 ranking on the preseason chart. After being held scoreless in the first six games of the year, the Freetown, Sierra Leone-native turned his season around with a goal or assist in eight consecutive matches, racking up four goals and six assists in that span. Ballard McBride is on the freshman top 100 list as the no. 6-ranked first-year player in the country. Despite not playing a single minute in any of UCSB's first three matches of the season, the Australian's performances have vaulted him to the top of the Gaucho goalscoring ranks, as he leads the squad with eight goals. He scored in six of the Gauchos' seven matches between the away game at Pacific on Sept. 25 and UCSB's home win against UC Riverside on Oct. 16.
• Roach at the Ready
The plaudits continue to pour in for Ben Roach after his stellar performances in net have continued for the Gauchos. Following a season and career-high 10 saves at Cal Poly, he was named to the College Soccer News Team of the Week, and he has already been recognized as the Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Week twice this season. Roach's 1,719 minutes played so far this season rank as tops among goalkeepers in the NCAA this season. The sophomore has started every game for the Gauchos this season following a highly successful freshman campaign. 
• One-bault, Two-bault, Three-bault
In the match against UMBC on Sept. 22, Thibault Candia scored the Gauchos' first hat trick since Luis Silva did the same on September 23, 2011 against San Diego. The first goal came early in the first half when Will Baynham played the ball forward for Candia in midfield, where he dribbled the ball into the left side of the 18-yard box, where his attempted cross into the middle took an immediate deflection off the foot of an opposing player and into the net. In the second half, he put away a penalty into the top left corner and brilliantly dribbled the ball from just past midfield to a few yards behind the top of the box, where he got a shot off with his right foot. For his efforts, he was awarded the Big West Co-Offensive Player of the Week award.
• One-Billingsley, Two-Billingsley, Three-Billingsley
Noah Billingsley became the first player in the Big West this season to record three assists in a game after assisting the second, third, and fourth goals in UCSB's 5-0 win at No. 22 Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 12. It was Santa Barbara's first triple-assist performance since Memo Arzate completed the feat in 2003 in his 18-assist campaign.
• Fun for the Whole Family
The UC Santa Barbara men's soccer program is debuting a revamped kids zone this season, featuring activities such as futsal, soccer golf, soccer tennis, and obstacle courses, at Harder Stadium prior to every men's soccer home match. The kids zone will be open to season ticket holders, from 6:30 p.m. up to 15 minutes before kickoff, and also at halftime. Fans are encouraged to arrive early as there is limited space for each game and the kids zone will fill up quickly. The play area will be open to children from the ages of 6 to 12. Event staff will be present to supervise the area, but parents/guardians will be required to sign a liability waiver on the first visit. The area will be located at the north end of Harder Stadium near the Gold Zone and Gaucho Fund hospitality area.
• Harder Heaven
Last season, UCSB finished 9-0-1 at home, good for its best home record since the 2002 Gauchos went 10-0-0. That came a year after the Gauchos went unbeaten in eight of their 10 home matches during the regular season (4-2-4). In the Vom Steeg era (since 1999), the Gauchos boast a hearty .731 winning percentage (147-46-26).