Gauchos Open Postseason by Hosting Cal State Fullerton in Big West Semis

Gauchos Open Postseason by Hosting Cal State Fullerton in Big West Semis

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• The Schedule
Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 7:00 p.m. PDT
(N1) UC Santa Barbara vs. (S2) Cal State Fullerton (9-8-4)
Harder Stadium
All-time record vs. the Titans: 31-25-3
Record vs. CSF in Vom Steeg era: 21-7-1
Last meeting: UCSB 2-1 CSF (OT, 10/1/16 @ CSF)
2015 series: split 1-1
UCSB form: W W T W L
CSF form: W T T W T

Saturday, Nov. 12 at TBA
Big West Championship
*With a win vs. Cal State Fullerton, UCSB will host*

• Here We Go
On Wednesday, UCSB opens postseason play by hosting Cal State Fullerton in the Big West Tournament Semifinals. Scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff, the contest is a rematch of the 2015 Big West Tournament Championship between the Gauchos and Titans.

• Get Your Tix Now!
To secure your seat for this Wednesday's Big West playoff action, call 805-893-UCSB or click here. UCSB students receive free entry with a valid student ID.

• Video Stream Available
UCSBGauchos.com will offer a live video broadcast of Wednesday night's contest against Cal State Fullerton through Big West TV. Gerry Fall, Voice of the Gauchos, will be on hand for play-by-play duty. A link to the broadcast can be found on the UCSB men's soccer schedule page or by clicking here

• Looking Ahead
With a win against the Titans, UCSB would host the Big West Tournament Championship at Harder Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 12.

• The Road So Far
As the top seed in the Big West North Division, UCSB received a bye in the first round of the Big West Tournament. Cal State Fullerton advanced to the semis via a shootout win over UC Davis, the No. 3 seed in the North Division. The Titans earned the No. 2 seed in the South Division.

• Clashing With the Titans
Though UCSB is a strong 21-7-1 (.741 winning percentage) against Cal State Fullerton since 1999, the Titans have made the series interesting over the last few years. UCSB is 3-2-1 against CSF since 2012, and just 2-2 since Fullerton hired former UCI head coach George Kuntz before the 2014 season. The Gauchos and Titans played for last year's Big West Tournament Championship at Harder Stadium, with the away team pulling out a 1-0 win.

• Closing On A Good Note
The Gauchos enter the postseason in good form, having gone unbeaten in nine of their final 10 games to close out the regular season. UCSB's first loss of conference play came in the regular season finale on Oct. 30 against UC Davis after the No. 1 North seed had been wrapped up and with many regulars resting on the bench. UCSB's nine-game unbeaten streak was its longest since 2013 (11 games).

• At the Summit
With a 6-1-3 record and 21 points in Big West play, UCSB emerged as Big West North Division champion for the fourth consecutive year.. The Gauchos have been division champs in all but one season since the Big West moved to its current divisional format in 2012.

• Perennial Playoffs
With UCSB's entrance into the Big West Tournament, the program has now reached the postseason in 14 of the last 15 seasons, by far the best stretch in program history.

• Tops in the Big West
Not just kings of the north, UCSB accrued more points than any team in the entire Big West, giving the program a fourth straight conference regular season title. The Gauchos have been outright dominant in league play over that span, accruing a 26-5-9 record. UCSB's 87 points over that span are easily the most of any Big West program, with all other teams racking up between 40 and 59 points.

• UCSB Dominates All-Big West Squad Once Again
With a strong conference campaign, UCSB was heavily represented on the 2016 Big West All-Conference Team, with four players being voted to the First Team and nine athletes receiving honors overall, both of which were league bests. In addition, Nick DePuy was named Offensive Player of the Year and Kevin Feucht was named Midfielder of the Year. That duo was joined on the First Team by Ahinga Selemani and Josue Espana. Randy Mendoza, Titouan Le Roux, and Andy Perez all earned Honorable Mentions, while Le Roux, Lamar Batista, and Noah Billingsley were all named to the All-Freshman Team. It was the fourth career All-Big West honor for DePuy, second for Feucht and Mendoza, and first for all others.

• DePuy Makes History
With his selection as Big West Offensive Player of the Year, Nick DePuy became the first player in league history to take home that honor three times in a career. UCSB's star striker won the award in 2015 after leading the country with 15 regular season goals and in 2014 after turning in eight goals (and five game-winners) after converting to forward halfway through the season. As a senior in 2016, DePuy has netted six times despite drawing heavy coverage from defenders. He is the Big West's career active leader in goals (31), game-winning goals (16), points (66) and shots (223).

• Feucht Honored as Top Midfielder
DePuy wasn't the only Gaucho to receive an individual award from the Big West, as Kevin Feucht was named the league's Midfielder of the Year. He is the fifth Gaucho to be named Midfielder of the Year since 2004 but the first since Nic Ryan in 2012. Earlier this season, he became just the sixth Gaucho ever to score a goal in five straight games, and he has notched at least one point in over half of UCSB's games (10 of 19). It was a breakout season offensively for the German-born mid, as he led the Big West with 10 goals and 22 points at the end of the regular season. His top stretch of play came at the end of interdivisional play, as he netted goals against UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton to earn Oct. 3 Big West Offensive Player of the Week honors.

• UCSB's History in the Big West Tourney
UCSB has an all-time record of 5-6-1 in the Big West Tournament, which began in 2008. The Gauchos won the 2010 iteration of the tournament, fell in the title game in the 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2015 tournaments, and bowed out in the semifinals in 2013 and 2014. UCSB is 1-1 all-time in the Big West Tournament against Cal State Fullerton, and 0-4 against teams coached by CS Fullerton head coach George Kuntz.

• Ahinga Steps Up
Junior striker Ahinga Selemani really put it together offensively for UCSB in conference play, notching five goals in league action to lead all Big West players. In addition, the Michigan transfer led the conference with four game-winning goals. He scored in four straight from Oct. 6-15, leading UCSB's offense during Big West action.

• Big Three
UCSB's veteran core – DePuy, Selemani, and Feucht – has accounted for 23 of the team's 30 goals this season (77%), including the last seven straight. They are three of the Big West's top 10 goalscorers this season. A trio of UCSB newcomers account for six of the team's other goals (Daniel Amo, Noah Billingsley, Dalton Pando with two apiece) while senior midfielder Josue Espana has the final tally.

• Defense Stepping Up
After a six-game stretch in September which saw UCSB allow 17 goals, the Gauchos have stepped it up on the defensive side of the ball big time. UCSB has now gone nine straight games allowing a single goal or fewer, the team's longest since 2012 (12 games). The Gauchos crafted the lowest GAA league-wide in Big West play at 0.75.

• Perfect 10
With a win at Sacramento State in the final week of the regular season, UCSB secured its 10th victory of the season. That makes it 16 straight years that the program has reached the double-digit win mark. The UCSB men's soccer program had just five 10+ win seasons on the books when Tim Vom Steeg was hired in 1999.

• Making Noise Again
After a six-week absence from the national rankings, UCSB received votes in Monday's College Soccer News poll. The Gauchos also received one point in the NSCAA Coaches Poll on Oct. 25.

• Storming the South
UCSB has fared particularly well against teams from the Big West South in recent years, including this year when the Gauchos went 4-0 during interdivisional play. UCSB has a 15-2-3 regular season record against Big West South teams since the league moved to divisional play in 2012, by far the best mark in the conference over that span.

• Harder Fortress
Despite a pedestrian 4-4-2 record at home in 2016, Harder Stadium has historically been a very tough place for visitors to earn a result. Since 2009, the Gauchos have gone 60-22-9 on their home pitch (.709 winning percentage), and they've lost just twice all-time in 14 home NCAA Tournament games.

• Batista Breaks Out
One of the biggest reasons for UCSB's defensive turnaround was the play of freshman defender/mid Lamar Batista, who impressed as a holding midfielder down the stretch. With quick feet and a 6-5 frame, he's an imposing figure for opposing offenses. He's not too shabby on offense either. He set up a game-winning Ahinga Selemani breakaway goal against CSUN on Oct. 8 by perfectly threading a long through ball between the Matadors' center backs. He also came up with a huge tackle in overtime at UC Davis on Oct. 19 to start a Gaucho counter that was finished off with a Nick DePuy golden goal.

• Big West Respect
UCSB's Big West North title should come as no surprise, as the Gauchos were unanimously picked to win the division in the Preseason Coaches Poll. UCSB also had three Preseason All-Big West picks – Selemani, DePuy, and Feucht – and all three made it to the 2016 All-Big West First Team.

• Crashing the Gates
To the surprise of nobody, this season's two UCSB-Cal Poly games have drawn huge crowds. Last month's tilt at Harder brought in 11,424 fans – the highest draw of any NCAA game this season – while the Oct. 15 contest at Spanos Stadium in San Luis Obispo saw a sellout crowd of 11,075. If those figures hold, this will be the fifth straight year that the Blue-Green Rivalry games will be the two highest-attended men's soccer games of the season. UCSB-Cal Poly games now comprise 15 of the top-20 regular season on-campus draws in NCAA history, while the Gauchos have been involved in 19 of those top-20 gates.

• Offensive Thinking
Though UCSB's defensive improvement was the key to a successful Big West campaign, the Gauchos offense has been consistently solid all year. For the season, UCSB ranks first in the league in goals, assists, and points. The Gauchos were among the top-20 NCAA-wide in goals before last week's bye.

• Drama Majors
The Gauchos have shown a penchant for drama over the past month-plus, going to overtime in seven of their past 13 games after reaching extra time just once in their opening six contests. UCSB has gone 8-4 this season in one-goal games, with three of those losses coming in three straight games from Sept. 17-24, including a controversial loss to UCLA and an overtime heartbreaker against Cal.

• Lots of Le Roux
Despite being a true freshman, goalie Titouan Le Roux has been entrusted with a heavy work load this year. Before the regular season finale, Le Roux led all players in the NCAA with 1698:12 minutes between the sticks. The French national was subsequently rested against UC Davis and then obviously didn't rack up minutes with UCSB on bye, so he now ranks 19th in the country. Le Roux ranked fourth in Big West play with a 0.72 GAA while his .800 save percentage ranked third.

• Gauchos All Over Top Drawer Player Rankings
UCSB was well represented in Top Drawer Soccer's Midseason rankings. Nick DePuy (No. 40) and Kevin Feucht (70) were the two highest-rated Big West players in the Top-100 player rankings, while a quartet of Gauchos appeared on the Freshman Top-100. Daniel Amo (20) was the top-ranked Gaucho frosh, followed by Noah Billingsley (61), Le Roux (81), and Mateo Restrepo Mejia (91).

• Vom Steeg Also Honored by Top Drawer
In early September, UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg was cited in Top Drawer Soccer's list of the "Ten Top Men's Division I college coaches."The article cites his ability to build strong teams, recruit competitively, and contend for national titles every year while providing a "professional environment" at home games.