November 14, 2013

No. 10 UCSB Set to Host No. 25 Cal State Northridge in Big West Tournament Semifinals

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• The Schedule
Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
Big West Conference Tournament Semifinals
No. 10 UC Santa Barbara (#1 seed in North Division)
vs. No. 25 Cal State Northridge (#2 seed in South, 14-5-1, 5-4-1)
Meredith Field at Harder Stadium
Overall record vs. the Matadors: 20-15-5
Last meeting: W, 2-1 (OT, 10/11/13 @ CSUN)
UCSB Streak/Form: Won 1/WTTTW
UCSB Streak/Form vs. CSUN: Won 1/WWWLW
CSUN Streak/Form: Won 1/LLWLW
Free online broadcast available at UCSBgauchos.com
For tickets, click here.

• The Week in Review
The Gauchos ended their regular season schedule with a pair of shutouts, drawing at Sacramento State on Wednesday before defeating Cal Poly 2-0 on Fox Sports Prime Ticket Saturday night. UCSB came flying out of the gate against the Hornets, recording the first six shots of the game. Sac State's Edwin Luna picked up a red card in the second half, but the Gauchos couldn't capitalize on the man advantage. Josh McNeely had to make a trio of saves late, including a 99th minute diving stop of a Trevor Jackson far post header that kept the game scoreless. UCSB thought it had the game won in the 109th when Adis Islamovic redirected an Ismaila Jome shot into the net, but Islamovic was ruled offside. Against Cal Poly, the Gauchos received a wake-up call when Mac Pridham, the conference's leading scorer, rang a shot off the inside of the left post in the sixth minute. UCSB recovered to produce two second half goals. The first came off a corner kick in the 61st minute, with Goffin Boyoko heading in a Drew Murphy cross, and then Charlie Miller sealed the game with an 86th minute strike after Boyoko got one-on-one with the keeper and sent a sharp pass across the box. UCSB outshot Cal Poly 19-7 and had a 9-0 edge in corner kicks.

• Big West Conference Tournament Primer
The six-team Big West Conference Tournament began this past Tuesday with the quarterfinal round. UCSB and UC Irvine earned first round byes as the top seed in their respective divisions. Cal State Northridge (the South's No. 2 seed) defeated Cal Poly (North's No. 3 seed) by a score of 4-1 to advance on and face UCSB. UC Davis (North No. 2 seed) will face UCI after beating UC Riverside (South No. 3 seed) 3-1 on Tuesday. The winners of Friday night's matches will face off in the Big West Championship on Sunday afternoon. Should the Gauchos win, they would host UC Davis or travel to UC Irvine, depending on the winner of that game. The South No. 1 seed earned the right to home field advantage throughout the tournament due to that division earning more points in inter-divisional play earlier this season.  

• Ticketing and Broadcasting Information
For Friday night's game, general admission prices will remain at $12. Students, youth, and military members can purchase tickets for $5. Members of the Loco Rewards program can pick up a complimentary ticket to the game from the Athletics Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Gerry Fall will have a live audio broadcast of the game which can be heard over the air on AM 1290 or on UCSBgauchos.com. For further information on tickets or to purchase your seats today, call the Athletics Ticket Office at 805-893-UCSB or click here.

• Historic Hot Streak
Though last month's tie with Cal Poly snapped a season-high seven game winning streak, UCSB remains unbeaten in its last 11 games. It is just the second time since 2005 that the Gauchos have gone 11 straight without a loss, matching last year's 11 game streak to open the season, the fourth longest unbeaten streak in school history. With a win against CSUN, the Gauchos will match the second longest unbeaten streak in program history at 12 games. UCSB hasn't lost in a over a month, with their last defeat coming on Sep. 27 to Stanford.

• Big West Beaters
With last week's win over Cal Poly, the Gauchos became just the second team in the Big West to go undefeated for an entire conference schedule since the league reinstituted men's soccer in 2001, ending the year with a 7-0-3 conference mark. The only other team to accomplish the feat was the 2002 UCSB team, who went 9-0-1 en route to a league title.

• Gauchos Dominate All-Conference List
The Big West All-Conference Team was just unveiled this week, and the Gauchos were prominently featured. With nine members of the team being honored, UCSB had the most recipients of any team conference-wide and the most for the program since 2010. Headlining the honorees were Tim Vom Steeg (Coach of the Year) and Ismaila Jome (Freshman of the Year, All-Big West First Team, All-Freshman Team). Other Gauchos included on the list included forward Achille Campion (First Team), defender Peter Schmetz (First Team), midfielder Fifi Baiden (Second Team), forward Goffin Boyoko (Honorable Mention), defender Nick DePuy (Honorable Mention, All-Freshman Team), midfielder Drew Murphy (All-Freshman), and goalkeeper Josh McNeely (All-Freshman).

• Welsh Picks Up National Honors
After anchoring a back four that picked up clean sheets in both of its games last week, senior center back Daniel Welsh was named to the Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week. Since losing Peter Schmetz to an ankle injury, Welsh and Nick DePuy have forged a formidable center back combination, allowing just one goal in three games since teaming up full time.

• Seven Gauchos Featured in College Soccer Madness All-Conference Team
Though the official Big West All-Conference Team grabbed most of the headlines early in the week, College Sports Madness honored five Gauchos in an All-Big West Team of their own. Tim Vom Steeg garnered Coach of the Year honors once again, while Peter Schmetz (Defensive Player of the Year) and Josh McNeely (Freshman of the Year) both received individual player honors. Achille Campion, Daniel Welsh, and Goffin Boyoko were both First-Teamers, while Fifi Baiden was named to the Second team.

• Division Champions
UCSB officially clinched the Big West North's top spot when Sac State beat UC Davis three weekends ago. It is UCSB's first league crown since 2009, and the 11th time in the last 12 seasons that the team will reach the postseason.

• Poll Vaulting
With their recent form, the Gauchos have caught the attention of coaches and media nationwide. Tim Vom Steeg's squad is ranked higher then they have been all season in each major poll, with every publication listing UCSB in its top-13. Additionally, the Gauchos are ranked No. 8 in the NCAA RPI rankings, which is tops among all Big West schools. They have been as high as No. 2 in the RPI this season, which is believed to be the best ranking in program history.

• A Short History of UCSB in the Big West Tournament
Since it began in 2008, the Gauchos have put together a 4-3-1 record in the Big West Tournament. However, they have an undefeated mark of 3-0-1 in semifinal games. UCSB and CSUN have met just once in the postseason, when the Gauchos came out victorious 1-0 on Nov. 11, 2009 behind a goal from Michael Boxall in the Semifinals. All three of UCSB's Big West Tourney losses have come at the hands of UC Irvine. The Gauchos' sole Tournament Championship came in 2010, when they beat Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton to capture the crown.

• 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. With a draw of 12,805 for last week's Cal Poly matchup, UCSB has now hosted the highest attended regular season contest in each of the past five years. The Gauchos have now hosted the five highest attended regular season, on-campus games in NCAA history and have been either the home or away team for 13 of the 14 biggest regular season, on campus draws.

• Dynamic Offense Meets Unflappable Offense
Though the UCSB defense has been on a nice run lately, they will face a tough test against a CSUN offense that has scored the twelfth most goals and third most points of any team in the country. Leading the way is Sagi Lev-Ari, who has 32 points this season to lead all Big West players. Still, the Gauchos had the lowest goal-against-average in the conference at 0.78 and have allowed just 0.63 goals per game over their 11 game unbeaten streak.