No. 13 UCSB Kicks Off Regular Season With Tourney at Ohio State

Randy Mendoza (photo by Eric Isaacs)
Randy Mendoza (photo by Eric Isaacs)

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• The Schedule
Bert & Iris Wolstein Classic
Hosted by Ohio State
Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium
Columbus, Ohio

Friday, Aug. 26 at 1 p.m. PDT
No. 13 UC Santa Barbara vs. Oakland
All-time record vs the Golden Grizzlies: First Meeting

Sunday, Aug. 28 at 4 p.m. PDT
No. 13 UC Santa Barbara at Ohio State
All-time record vs. the Buckeyes: 0-1-0
Last meeting: OSU 4-3 UCSB in 2007 NCAA Sweet 16

• The Week Ahead
UC Santa Barbara men's soccer opens the 2016 regular season this weekend with the Bert & Iris Wolstein Classic, a four-team tournament hosted by Ohio State. The Gauchos open the tourney against Oakland (Mich.) on Friday before taking on the hosts Sunday afternoon. The fourth team in the tournament is Virginia Tech, which UCSB will not face.

• The Week in Review
The Gauchos kicked off the new campaign on Aug. 20 with a 3-0 win in their annual exhibition game against Westmont. Despite the inclusion of three newcomers in the starting lineup, UCSB looked in midseason form en route to dominating the Warriors in possession, resulting in a 17-3 advantage in shots and 13-0 edge in corner kicks. Josue España scored UCSB's first two goals, equaling his entire goal output of the 2015 season, first by having his shot from just outside the box deflected up and over the keeper and then heading home a Randy Mendoza cross. Nick DePuy added an easy header in the second half to cap the scoring.

• 2015 in Brief
A near-unanimous preseason pick to win the Big West North, UCSB validated 2015 prognosticators by winning its third consecutive division crown en route to a 14-6-2 record. The Gauchos were once again dominant at home, recording an 9-2-1 mark at Harder Stadium this season. In conference play, the Gauchos went an impressive 7-2-1, including a 4-0 mark against Big West south opponents. UCSB posted two five-game unbeaten streaks over the year, with all but one of those contests coming in Big West action. Key non-conference wins included a season-opening victory over then-No. 5 Stanford, the first ever away win for UCSB at UCLA, a 4-0 drubbing of USD, and a 3-1 decision over College of Charleston. Earning a first round bye in the NCAA tournament, the Gauchos topped South Carolina 1-0 before falling 3-2 to No. 2 Clemson in a dramatic back-and-forth Sweet 16 matchup.

• Big West Respect
UCSB was selected unanimously to repeat as Big West North Division Champions and three Gauchos were named to the 11-man Preseason All-Conference Team when the league unveiled the results of the 2016 Preseason Coaches Poll. The Gauchos received all eight first place votes and totaled 32 points, more than any other Big West squad. Cal State Fullerton was tabbed to win the South Division. DePuy, Kevin Feucht, and forward Ahinga Selemani placed on the Preseason All-Big West Team.

• DePuy's Preseason Publicity
It was a busy offseason for Nick DePuy, who garnered a number of preseason awards. The senior striker was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, received a College Soccer News Preseason All-America honor, was listed as the top "senior poised for a big year," and was named the 2015-16 UCSB Male Athlete of the Year on top of his selection to the Preseason All-Big West Team. DePuy led the NCAA last season with 15 regular season scores and eight game-winning goals, leading to First Team All-America and Big West Offensive Player of the Year honors.

• Lucky 13
UCSB was ranked No. 13 in the country in the NSCAA Preseason Coaches Poll, second-highest on the west coast behind top-ranked Stanford. The Gauchos were tabbed No. 16 in the country by College Soccer News.

• Schedule Breakdown
Tim Vom Steeg has constructed another tough schedule for the Gauchos this season. Key opponents coming to Harder Stadium include UCLA, Cal, UC Irvine, Cal Poly, and LMU. Top road foes include No. 2 Akron, Ohio State, Butler, and Oakland. In all, UCSB will face six opponents this season who participated in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, including two teams who made the Sweet 16 and one, Akron, who advanced all the way to the College Cup.

• Filling the House
UCSB drew a total of 46,132 fans (3,844 per game) to Harder Stadium last season to lead the NCAA in attendance for the ninth consecutive season.

• Opening Act
The Gauchos have gone 13-2-2 during Tim Vom Steeg's tenure in season openers. In the past 10 years, they have lost just one opener, an overtime loss to Cal State Bakersfield in 2010. UCSB has won five straight openers (at Northwestern, at LMU, vs. Seattle. at College of Charleston, at Stanford), outscoring its opponents 12-3 in those games.

• Model of Consistency
With its high level of play last season, UCSB extended a pair of impressive program streaks. They earned a postseason berth for the 13th time in the past 14 seasons and won 10 or more games for a program-record 15th consecutive season.

• Dominant DePuy
One of the most potent offensive forces in the entire country, senior forward Nick DePuy had one of the most prolific seasons for a striker in UCSB program history last year. The Irvine native ended the regular season with more goals (15) and game-winning goals (eight) than any other player in the country. DePuy found the back of the net in 12 of the team's last 23 games a year ago, including a five-game stretch from Sept. 27 to Oct. 10 where he scored six goals with four of those holding up as the game-winner.

• Historic Striker
DePuy's 15 goals a year ago tied for the sixth-most goals in single-season UCSB history. He had the most scores by a Gaucho player since Luis Silva had 17 in 2011. Heading into the new season, DePuy is the Big West's active career leader in goals (25), game-winning goals (14), points (52), and shots (74).

• Repeat Offender
Leading the league in goals (15) and points (31) by a wide margin, DePuy was selected as the Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2015 for the second consecutive season, the first Gaucho to repeat as winner of the award since Rob Friend in 2001 and 2002. Also in 2015, he became the first student-athlete ever to win three consecutive Big West Offensive Player of the Week awards, thanks to a stretch where he turned in six goals and four game-winners over a five-game span.

• Nice Move, Coach
Since being converted to forward on Sept. 26, 2014 in a game against San Diego State, Nick DePuy has more goals than any other player in NCAA soccer. In that time, he has netted a whopping 24 times in 35 games. All-time, the Gauchos are an undefeated 16-0-4 in contests where DePuy finds the back of the net.

• Another Feather in the Cap
After leading UCSB to yet another regular season championship, Tim Vom Steeg was voted as the 2015 Big West Coach of the Year. The award was the cherry on top of a typically successful season at the helm of the program, as Vom Steeg tied CSUN head coach Terry Davila for the most Big West coaching honors all-time at five to go along with his two NSCAA National Coach of the Year awards (2004, 2006). Last season, Vom Steeg extended his conference records by notching his 200th win as a Big West coach and his 100th victory in conference action. The Gauchos have now won at least 10 games in all but one of Vom Steeg's 17 previous seasons on the bench.

• Pair of Gauchos Named to Top Drawer's Top-100
On Wednesday morning, both Nick DePuy and Kevin Feucht were listed on Top Drawer Soccer's Preseason Top-100 men's player rankings. DePuy checked in at No. 26, the highest ranked player in the Big West. Feucht was tabbed as the No. 67 player in the country, the only other Big West player to be ranked.

• Another Strong Batch of Newcomers
UCSB's incoming class of players was ranked as the No. 17 recruiting class in the nation by College Soccer News. Three newcomers started UCSB's first game of the season: midfielder Daniel Amo, right back Mateo Restrepo Mejia, and goalie Titouan Le Roux. Other key newcomers include wingback Dalton Pando, left back Kyle Perno, center back Lamar Batista, forward Noah Billingsley, and defender Jan Ilskens.