Gauchos Look to Stay Hot as They Travel North to Take On UC Davis

Drew Murphy (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Drew Murphy (Photo by Tony Mastres)

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• The Schedule
Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 at 3:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at UC Davis (6-6-1, 2-2-0)
at Aggie Soccer Field in Davis, Calif.
Overall record vs. the Aggies: 16-6-4
Last meeting: L, 2-1 (10/28/12 @ UCSB)
UCSB Streak: Won 5
UCSB Streak vs. UCD: Lost 2
UC Davis Streak: Won 1
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Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Sacramento State (2-7-3, 0-4-0)
Meredith Field at Harder Stadium
Overall record vs. the Hornets: 8-3-1
Last meeting: W, 2-1 (10/31/12 @ Sac St)
UCSB Streak: Won 5
UCSB Streak vs. Sac St.: Won 6
Sac State Streak: Lost 4
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• The Week in Review
The Gauchos had one their most exciting weeks in recent memory, earning consecutive come-from-behind victories over No. 4 CSUN and UC Irvine. In Friday's victory over the Matadors, an 87th minute Peter Schmetz header erased a 1-0 CSUN lead and sent the two teams to overtime. In the last minute of the first extra period, the Matadors were whistled for a handball, giving UCSB a penalty kick. Achille Campion stepped up to the spot and converted the penalty for the Gauchos win. It was deja vu for the Gauchos on Sunday, when the Anteaters scored a first half goal to put UCSB against the ropes. Reed McKenna responded in the second half with his first career goal, and then in double overtime, Kevin Garcia-Lopez made a 70-yard run down the right before slotting inside the near post for his first career goal as well.

• Rankings Roundup
With their two road wins over CSUN and UCI, the Gauchos made a big jump in the NCAA's RPI –all the way from No. 16 up to No. 3. That ranking is believed to be the highest in program history. So far this season, UCSB has played seven matches against schools in the top-50 RPI wise, while playing just three games against teams outside the top-100. After a two week absence from the major Divison I polls, the Gauchos appeared in three national polls this weekend (College Soccer News, Soccer America: 20, Top Drawer Soccer: 24).

• Red Hot Gauchos
UCSB is currently in the midst of a five-game winning streak, its longest so far this season. It is the Gauchos' first five-game win streak since Oct. 26-Nov. 9, 2011. A win against UC Davis will give UCSB its first six-game streak since 2010. The Gauchos have put together a whopping 20 seperate five-game win streaks in program history, 11 of which have come during the Tim Vom Steeg era.

• Conference Killers
With a 4-0 record in the Big West, UCSB is off to its best start in conference play since 2009, when the Gauchos went 5-0 out of the gate en route to an 8-1-1 league record. The Gauchos have never gone 6-0 in their first six games of conference play. On a four game Big West win streak, the Gauchos can match program marks with wins in their next two matchups (last five-game conference win streak was 2011, six-game streak in 2010). As a team, UCSB has been lighting up the conference leaderboard as well, racking up the third most goals and conceding the fewest among all Big West schools.

• Schmetz Honored by the Big West
For the second consecutive week, a Gaucho – this time Peter Schmetz – was named the Big West Defensive Player of the Week. Schmetz had a standout week on both sides of the ball. Offensively, he netted the late equalizer against Northridge and was a general threat on set pieces. He was even better defensively – a back line anchored by Schmetz allowed just one goal to one of the most potent offenses in the country in CSUN (just the second time this year that the Matadors didn't score multiple goals), while holding UCI off the board for the final 56 minutes of Sunday's match despite playing a man down. Schmetz has emerged as one of the premier center backs in the conference this season. With just one career goal to his name entering the 2013 campaign, he has now notched three scores in his last six appearances. As the Gauchos defense has allowed just three goals over their last six games, Schmetz has single-handedly matched the opposition over that timeframe.

• Dealing With Davis
The Gauchos have compiled a 10-4-2 record against the Aggies in the Tim Vom Steeg era. Last year was the first time ever that UC Davis swept the season series against the Gauchos. UCSB had won the five previous contests between the two teams. Since 1999, UCSB has gone 5-2-1 at Aggie Stadium. Besides last year, the team's only other loss at Davis came in 2006. The Gauchos' only goal against the Aggies last year came from Achille Campion, who scored in the first half on Oct. 28, 2012. It was his final appearance and final goal of that campaign.

• Playoff Potential
Depending on what happens this week, the Gauchos may be able to punch their ticket for next month's Big West tournament. A UCSB win over Davis or a Sac St. loss to Cal Poly on Saturday combined with a Gauchos win over the Hornets on Tuesday will ensure postseason play for Tim Vom Steeg's squad for the 11th time in the past 12 years.

• Handling the Hornets
Historically, UCSB has the upper hand in the series with Sacramento State. The Gauchos have won each of the last six matchups. The Hornets' last win came all the way back in 1997. Things have been even tougher for Sac St. at Harder Stadium. Since losing the first matchup ever between the two teams in 1992, UCSB has gone 5-0-1 against the Hornets at home.

• Impact Freshmen
Despite being in their first year of collegiate soccer, a trio of freshmen have made a huge impact for UCSB. Midfielder Drew Murphy has four assists in the last four games and is tied for the most assists overall in the conference with six, which also ranks him 13th in the NCAA. Left-footed winger Ismaila Jome sits just one assist behind team-leader Murphy, and had a seven-points-in-seven-games run that ended against CSUN. His five assists rank fourth in the conference and 34th in the NCAA. Lastly, goalkeeper Josh McNeely has had a fantastic year so far, as he leads the conference in goals against average (0.69) and save percentage (.805%), while ranking second in shutouts (four). The Calabasas native has been even better in conference play, stopping .889% of shots sent on frame and maintaining a GAA of just 0.46.

• UCSB Against Top 5 Opponents
Last week's win over No. 4 CSUN ranked among the biggest takedowns of top-ranked teams in program history. CSUN was the fifth-highest ranked opponent to fall to the Gauchos. The highest was Wake Forest, who were ranked No. 2 before losing to UCSB in the 2006 College Cup Semifinal. The Gauchos have also defeated three No. 3 teams all-time (Akron on 10/5/11, SMU on 9/14/07, UNCG on 11/28/04).

• Filling the House
After drawing just under 50,000 fans into Harder Stadium last season, the Gauchos have now led the nation in attendance for six consecutive years, dating back to 2007. Last year's Cal Poly matchup saw 13,467 fans go through the Harder Stadium turnstiles, the most of any NCAA match in 2012. Overall, UCSB has four of the five highest on-campus regular season draws in NCAA history, including a record 15,896 against UCLA on Sep. 24, 2010. This year's Sep. 27 draw of 7,750 for the Stanford game was the largest crowd at a Big West game so far this season.