SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara was a unanimous choice to win the Big West Conference's North Division and a trio of Gauchos were named to the 2012 Preseason All-Conference Team, it was announced Friday.
The Big West, with the addition of Sacramento State in men' soccer only, has gone to a two-division format for the first time. UC Irvine was a strong favorite to win the South Division.
The Gauchos, who open the season with their annual exhibition game against Westmont College on Aug. 18, received all 8 first-place votes to win the North. Their 32 points in the poll were 12 ahead of UC Davis, which was picked to finish second. Cal Poly (16 points) and Sacramento State (12 points) were chosen third and fourth respectively.
Three UCSB seniors were chosen to the 11-player Preseason All-Conference Team. Midfielder Machael David, defender Peter McGlynn and forward Dion Acoff were each named to the squad. David and McGlynn are both returning after injury-plagued 2011 seasons. David was a First Team All-Big West selection in 2010. Acoff is a transfer from Creighton where he was an All-Missouri Valley Conference, helping the Blue Jays to the 2011 College Cup.
In addition to the three Preseason All-Conference honorees, the Gauchos return three other 2011 All-Big West players in Dom Sarle, Josue Madueno and Peter Schmetz. They also add several outstanding newcomers and enter the 2012 season ranked No. 11 in the NSCAA/Continental Tire preseason poll.
UC Irvine, which has been UCSB's primary competition in the Big West over the last few seasons, earned six of eight first-place votes and totaled 29 points. The Anteaters were six points ahead of Cal State Northridge in the South Division poll. The Matadors earned one first-place vote. UC Riverside (15) and Cal State Fullerton (13 and one first-place vote) round out the poll.
Santa Barbara opens its season with an exhibition game against crosstown rival Westmont College on August 18 at 7:00 p.m. in Harder Stadium. After beginning the regular season with a trio of road games, the Gauchos will play their first home game on Friday, Sept. 7 against Valparaiso. In their second home game, they will host #2 UCLA on Friday, Sept. 21. Two years ago, the two schools met at Harder Stadium and shattered the NCAA record for single game attendance. The Bruins open the season ranked second in the NSCAA/Continental poll. Big West Conference rival UC Irvine, which visits Harder Stadium on Oct. 5, starts the season ranked 13th in the nation. North Carolina is ranked No. 1 in the season's first poll.
To ensure that you don't miss a minute of the 2012 campaign, purchase your season tickets now. The popular Family Plan includes five tickets for just $178. This year, the plan will also serve as a Flex Plan with either two season passes and three GKids memberships or five tickets – it's your call! GKids remains the best value in town for kids with access to every regular season game in every sport while wearing your GKids t-shirt. Call (805) 893-UCSB or click here to purchase your season tickets.