No. 5 UCSB Tackles Pair of Top-20 Opponents in Akron Tournament

Ahinga Selemani (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Ahinga Selemani (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

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• The Schedule
University of Akron Tournament

Friday, Sept. 9 at 1:30 p.m. PDT
No. 5 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 19 Butler (2-0-1)
Cub Cadet Field in Akron, Ohio
All-time record vs the Bulldogs: First Meeting
UCSB Form: W W W W
Butler Form: T W W

Monday, Sept. 12 at 4:30 p.m. PDT
No. 5 UC Santa Barbara vs. No.10 Akron (2-2-0)
Cub Cadet Field in Akron, Ohio
All-time record vs the Zips: 2-1-0
Last meeting: Akron 2-0 UCSB (9/25/15 @ UCSB)
UCSB Form: W W W W
Akron Form: W W L L

• The Week in Review
A week after opening the 2016 campaign with a pair of wins in the Wolstein Classic at Ohio State, UC Santa Barbara had a successful homecoming at Harder Stadium, topping San Diego 5-2 on Friday night before eking out a 1-0 victory over St. Mary's on Sunday. The Gauchos' five goals against the Toreros were the team's most in a single game since 2012 and the most in a home game since 2011. In the first half, Kevin Feucht scored the first two goals against USD in less than a minute, then Ahinga Selemani put UCSB up 3-0 just a few moments later. Nick DePuy and Dalton Pando added second half goals. In a tight, defensive-minded showdown with the Gaels, DePuy was the difference-maker with a beautiful effort in the 77th minute, blasting a right-footed strike from 10 yards out after a nice turn off a Feucht pass.

• History with the Bulldogs and Zips
Though this will be the first-ever matchup between UCSB and Butler, the Gauchos have an interesting relationship with Akron over the past 10 years. UCSB defeated the Zips 5-0 in the 2006 season opener, the first meeting between the two programs, and the Gauchos went on to win the National Championship that year. UCSB hosted the 2010 College Cup in Santa Barbara, and Akron emerged victorious to claim that year's national title. The teams have split the two matchups since then, with UCSB winning 3-2 in overtime in 2011 and Akron coming out ahead 2-0 in 2015. This will be the first showdown between the two on Akron's home turf: Cub Cadet Field.  

• Hot Start
With wins in four straight games to open the season, UCSB is off to its hottest start since 2011 (also 4-0). This is the Gauchos' fifth 4-0 start in the Tim Vom Steeg era (since 1999). With a pair of victories this weekend, UCSB would lock down its best six-game start since 2004 (UCSB was unbeaten over its first eight games each year from 2002-04).

• Rankings Update
Thanks to its hot start, UCSB has jumped from its preseason ranking of No. 13 to as high as No. 5 in this week's polls. The Gauchos top out at No. 5 in Soccer America's rankings while also checking in at No. 7 (NSCAA, Top Drawer) and No. 9 (CSN). UCSB is the top ranked team in the Far West Region, unseating previous No. 1 teams UCLA and Stanford. This is the team's highest NSCAA ranking since the 2012 season.

• DePuy Voted Big West Offensive Player of the Week Once Again
With two goals last weekend, including one game-winner, UCSB's Nick DePuy was voted as the Big West Offensive Player of the Week. It was the sixth Big West weekly honor in DePuy's career, second-most in league history. Sophomore center back Sam Strong was also nominated for the conference Defensive Player of the Week after leading a defensive effort that held UCSB's opponents to just 13 shots over two games.

• Feucht Named to CSN Team of the Week
DePuy wasn't the only UCSB player to be recognized by the media, as Kevin Feucht was named to the College Soccer News Team of the Week after potting two goals and setting up DePuy's game-winning goal against St. Mary's. The midfielder was a Wolstein Classic All-Tournament selection in the season's opening week.

• Feucht Filling Up the Net
Though Feucht, a 2015 All-Region pick, was second on the club a year ago with six goals, only two of those came in the run of play as the German national was 4-4 from the penalty spot. Ironically, Feucht has missed his lone PK this season, but he has already eclipsed his 2015 account with three goals from the run of play this year, including a golden goal at Ohio State and two goals within 53 seconds against San Diego.

• Gaucho Soccer Dominating
Paired with the UCSB women's team's 5-0 start, UCSB soccer is having an unprecedented opening to a season. This is the first time in school history that UCSB's two soccer teams have combined to go 9-0 out of the gate.

• Rank and File
UCSB will be put to the test this week with a pair of games against ranked opponents. The Gauchos defeated No. 18 Ohio State on the road in their only ranked game so far this season, and they were 2-2-1 against ranked opponents in 2015, including wins over then-No. 5 Stanford and No. 21 South Carolina.

• 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.

• On Top of the Big West
Through the first two weeks of the season, UCSB is at or near the top of the Big West in practically every major team statistic. The Gauchos lead the league in total and average goals, assists, points, and winning percentage, and they rate second in both goals against average and shots per game. UCSB also has several individual leaders in the Big West as well, including goalie Titouan Le Roux (minutes played), DePuy (shots per game), and Josue España (assists).

• 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.

• DePuy in a Few
There is a clear reason Nick DePuy is one of the most hyped seniors in college soccer this year, as the striker is coming off a historic junior campaign. In 2015, he led all NCAA players with 15 regular season goals and eight game-winners, he led the Big West in goals and points (31) by a wide margin, and he received a litany of postseason awards including First Team All-America, Big West Offensive Player of the Year (second year in a row), and Mac Hermanny Trophy Semifinalist honors. Most importantly, UCSB is 18-0-4 all-time in games where DePuy scores a goal.

• Pair of Gauchos Named to Top Drawer's Top-100
Before the season, both Nick DePuy (No. 26) and Kevin Feucht (67) were listed on Top Drawer's Preseason Top-100 men's player rankings. They were the only two players in the Big West to be ranked.

• 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 14-7-2 record. The Gauchos were 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.