November 18, 2013

Gauchos Earn No. 10 National Seed, Will Receive First Round Bye in NCAA Tournament

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – After putting together a 12-5-3 overall record and going undefeated in Big West play for just the second time in program history, the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team was rewarded with the No. 10 national seed in the NCAA Tournament, as revealed on the NCAA's Monday morning Selection Show.

As one of the top 16 teams in the 48-team tourney, the Gauchos receive a bye in the first round of play. They will play their first game of the tournament on Sunday, Nov. 24 at Harder Stadium against the winner of the Penn State/St. Francis Brooklyn first round matchup. Kick-off for Sunday's second round showdown is set for 6:00 p.m. PST.

"It's great to see where we ended up," said UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg. "It's about as good as we could have hoped for. Getting that bye is critical for us , looking where our team is at right now. Having those extra days to rest our players and reassess some of our injuries is the reward for us having played a very tough schedule."

The No. 10 seed in the tournament is the second highest in program history. UCSB's 2004 team was seeded ninth and ended up in that year's College Cup. The 2006 National Championship team was unseeded.

Joining UCSB in the NCAA Tournament are UC Irvine (No. 12 seed) and Cal State Northridge (No. 15). It is the first time in Big West history that three conference teams have been seeded in the tournament. Both in the Washington Regional, the Gauchos and Matadors have a chance to rekindle their rivalry in the quarterfinal round.

Tim Vom Steeg's squads have now reached the postseason in 11 of the 12 past seasons. The Gauchos have had double-digit wins in 13 consecutive campaigns.

This year's team went 4-4 out of the gate, but caught fire in late September, going unbeaten over its final 11 regular season games en route to a Big West North Division Title. UCSB had a conference-high nine members named to the All-Big West Team, including Freshman of the Year Ismaila Jome and Coach of the Year Tim Vom Steeg.

With one of the most grueling schedules in the nation, the Gauchos jumped as high as No. 2 in the NCAA RPI rankings, the highest in program history. Eight of UCSB's 2013 opponents were included in the 48-team NCAA bracket.

Penn State, the Big Ten regular season champions, were one of five teams to come out of their conference. They finished the year with an 11-5-2 record and boast the Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year in Andrew Wolverton. St. Francis Brooklyn received an automatic qualifying bid after winning the Northeast Conference Tournament. The Terriers went 12-5-1 this season and finished the year by winning four of their last five games.

"It will be a tough match no matter who we end up playing," said Vom Steeg.

Tickets for sunday's NCAA Tournament game are now on sale. To secure your seats today, call 805-893-UCSB. Online ticketing options will be available shortly.

To view the entire NCAA Tournament bracket, click here.