UCSB Treks North for Blue-Green Showdown at Cal Poly

Josue España (photo by Vince Agapito)
Josue España (photo by Vince Agapito)

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• The Schedule
Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7:00 p.m. PDT
UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal Poly (3-7-2, 1-3-1)
Spanos Stadium in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Mustangs: 45-18-8
Record vs. CP in Vom Steeg era: 22-7-6
Last meeting: UCSB 2-2 CP (10/24/15 @ UCSB)
2015 series: UCSB goes 0-1-1 against CP
UCSB form: T W W W T
CP form: L L T L W

Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 3:00 p.m. PDT
UC Santa Barbara vs. UC Davis (6-6-2, 2-3-0)
Aggie Soccer Field in Davis, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Aggies: 21-7-5
Record vs. UCD in Vom Steeg era: 17-5-3
Last meeting: UCSB 1-0 UCD (Big West Tourney Semi @ UCSB, Nov. 11, 2015)
2015 series: UCSB goes 3-0-0 vs. UCD
UCSB form: T W W W T
UCD form: L W L W L

• Looking Ahead
This week, UCSB will wrap up a three-game homestand by welcoming in Sacramento State on Wednesday night before traveling to Cal Poly for a match on Saturday. Wednesday's game is another Gauchos Give Game Night, while Saturday marks the first game in the annual Blue-Green series.

• Gauchos on the Air
Just like home games, UCSBGauchos.com will carry a live video stream of Saturday night's showdown at Spanos Stadium. Voice of the Gauchos Gerry Fall will provide play-by-play. A link can be found directly here or on the UCSB men's soccer schedule page

• Getting Hot
After a five-game slide in mid-September, it looks like UCSB is back on top of its game heading into the weekend, taking a season-long five-game unbeaten streak into Saturday's contest. This is just the second time in the past five years that the Gauchos have had multiple four-game unbeaten streaks in a single season.

• The Week in Review
UCSB continued its hot start to conference play by outlasting CSUN Saturday for a 2-1 win before drawing 1-1 with Sac State on Wednesday. The Gauchos came out firing against CSUN with a pair of goals in the first 20 minutes, but they had to go into defense mode when the Matadors scored a fluke goal just before halftime. Fortunately UCSB was able to hold on for the win. UCSB outshot Sac St. 16-5 but couldn't find its finishing touch after going up 1-0 in the sixth min. The Hornets leveled it with a 27th minute free kick goal, and UCSB couldn't find a game-winner after that, settling for a draw to remain atop the division with 11 points.

• Selemani Named Big West Player of the Week
After one of the top two-game performances of his career, UCSB junior forward Ahinga Selemani was named Big West Offensive Player of the Week on Monday. Selemani recorded the game-winning goal in both of UCSB's contests last week, his third and fourth scores of the year. He rifled home a shot from the left side of the box after a long run from Josue Espana against UCI, the game's only goal. He then finished off a breakaway to go up 2-0 on CSUN after a long ball over the top from Lamar Batista. Selemani is UCSB's third Big West Offensive Player of the Week this year, including midfielder Kevin Feucht's honor last week. Selemani added a goal against Sac State, giving him three goals in as many games heading into Saturday.

• Clashing With Cal Poly
Saturday's game will be the first in the Blue-Green rivalry this year. UCSB has put up a solid .714 winning percentage against Cal Poly in Tim Vom Steeg's tenure, but the series has gotten tigher in recent years, with the Gauchos going just 4-5-3 against the Mustangs since 2012. UCSB will be looking for just its second win at Spanos Stadium in the past seven years (2014). The "Top Rivalry in College Soccer" has lived up to its billing over the last decade, with 16 of the past 20 games between UCSB and Cal Poly being decided by one goal or fewer. Last year was just the second time since 2001 that Cal Poly won the season series against UCSB.

• Crashing the Gates
Another sellout is expected at Spanos Stadium on Saturday, meaning the Gaucho-Mustang series will once again put a dent in the NCAA attendance record book. Last year's game at Harder Stadium drew a crowd of 14,919 that ranks second all-time for regular season on-campus NCAA games. The two annual UCSB-Cal Poly games have been the two-highest attended games in NCAA soccer in each of the past four years, and Gaucho-Mustang battles now comprise 13 of the top 19 regular season, on-campus draws in NCAA men's soccer history. The UCSB game at Spanos has sold out in five consecutive years. Over the past five years, a total of 124,733 fans have witnessed UCSB-Cal Poly games, either at Harder Stadium or Spanos Stadium in San Luis Obispo, a total that dwarfs any other pairing of programs in the entire country.

• Defending Their Crown
With 11 points out of their first five league games, UCSB is in a familiar place: at the top of the Big West North Division. So far in league play, UCSB has the best goal differential (+3) among North teams. The Gauchos have won three consecutive Big West North titles and have nine Big West regular season championships since 2002.

• Defense Improving
Though UCSB ranks middle of the pack with a 1.57 goals-against-average for the season, the Gauchos have improved their defensive numbers in conference play, allowing only four goals for a 0.92 GAA that ranks second in the league. After the 1-1 draw with Sac State, UCSB has now allowed one goal or fewer in a season-best four straight games.

• Feucht on a Roll
Though junior mid Kevin Feucht was held off the scoresheet last week – just the second time this season he's gone without a point in consecutive games – he has inarguably been a huge part of UCSB's season on both sides of the ball. The German national leads the Big West and ranks 16th in the country with eight goals, and he also tops the league with 18 points. The box-to-box beast has been on the field for all but 35 of UCSB's 1,316 minutes of action this season (97.3%).

• DePuy in a Few
A 2015 All-American after leading the country with 15 regular season goals and eight game-winners, senior forward Nick DePuy was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List before the season. DePuy leads the Big West this year with a 3.29 shots per game average, and he has notched five goals despite drawing heavy coverage to give him 30 for his career. That total ranks ninth all-time in Big West history while his 15 career game-winners rank first in UCSB lore and third in the Big West.

• Confident in Conference Play
UCSB has been dominant in conference play over the past three-plus seasons, accruing a 23-4-8 record  and taking home the regular season title each year. The Gauchos' 77 combined points in league play over that span are easily the most of any Big West school, with all other teams racking up between 34 and 49 points.

• Storming the South
With last week's pair of wins, UCSB completed an undefeated run through the Big West South portion of its schedule. That should not come as news to Gaucho fans, as the blue-and-gold have accrued a 15-2-3 record against South opponents since the Big West switched to divisional play in 2012. That mark is the best inter-divisional record of any school in the league. At the conclusion of cross-divisional play, the North and South divisions both had 20 points, so the Big West Tourney tiebreaker is to be determined.

• Offense Clicking
Through the first month and a half of the season, UCSB has proven itself as one of the more dynamic offensive units around, as the Gauchos have scored more goals (25), produced more assists (25), and totaled more points (75) than any other Big West team. UCSB is in a three-way tie for the highest shots per game average (5.79) in the league alongside UC Davis and Cal State Fullerton.

• RPI Report
In this week's NCAA RPI report, UCSB checked in at No. 62. That figure ranks tops in the Big West The Gauchos debuted at No. 74 in last week's initial rankings from the NCAA. Sacramento State sits at No. 92 in the current RPI while Cal Poly comes in at No. 145.

• 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.