Aug. 15, 2005
Santa Barbara, Calif. - For the fourth consecutive season, UC Santa Barbara has been picked to win the Big West Conference title in the conference coaches' preseason poll. Winners of three of the last four league championships, the Gauchos return six starters from last year's squad that advanced to the NCAA National Championship game, giving the competition in the Big West something to think about.
UCSB, which enters the 2005 season with a school record No. 7 preseason ranking in College Soccer News' national poll, led all teams with four first place votes and 33 total points in the Big West poll. Cal State Northridge, the only other school to claim the conference crown in the last four years, was picked to finish second with 29 total points. And Cal State Fullerton was picked to finish third with 22 points and one first place vote. Cal Poly was the only other program to receive a first place vote, but finished last in the balloting with eleven total points, just behind UC Irvine and UC Riverside, who were picked to finish fourth and fifth, respectively.
"Based on our success the last couple of years, especially last season, it is not surprising that we were picked to win the conference title," said head coach Tim Vom Steeg. "Over the last couple of years the Big West has made tremendous strides at the national level and it is critical for us to have every conference team be able to compete for the championship, which I feel is the case this year. Part of our success in being seeded in the NCAA Tournament has been the strength of the entire conference."
Santa Barbara's first meeting against second place pick CSUN will be a nationally televised affair in Harder Stadium on October 8th at 7:00 p.m. The match will air on CSTV the following day.
UCSB opens the 2005 season in just over two weeks when it hosts the adidas Classic on September 2nd and 4th featuring perennial powers Virginia and Cal, and Big West up-and-comer UC Riverside. The Gauchos begin preparation for opening weekend Wednesday, August 17th with it first official practice at 8:30 a.m.