Aug. 23, 2005
Santa Barbara, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara's men's soccer team will begin its 2005 season with a No. 4 national ranking from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. The Gauchos are coming of a spectacular 2004 campaign were they ended the regular season No. 1 in the nation and battled to a 1-1 double-overtime tie in the national championship match against champion, and 2005 preseason No. 1, Indiana.
UCSB returns six starters from last years' squad that finished 21-3-1, including sophomore defender Andy Iro, who was named a preseason All-American by both Soccer America and College Soccer News this week. Iro received first team honors from Soccer America and second team from CSN. Iro's play on the Gauchos' superb defense helped him garner Freshman All-American accolades as well as College Cup All-Tournament honors in 2004.
Santa Barbara also welcomes in a stellar recruiting class that has received national attention since it was first released, earning a No. 11 national ranking from CSN after just the preliminary signings were announced. This week was no different as the now-Gaucho pair of Eric Avila and Alfonso Motagalvan were named to CSN's list of Top 100 Freshman to Watch in 2005. Avila and Motagalvan will help to replace the voids left in UCSB's offense with the departure of Drew McAthy and Neil Jones to graduation. Santa Barbara's leading returning scorer from 2004 is Jonathan Davis with six goals and three assists.
The Gauchos' No. 4 ranking is its highest-ever in a preseason poll, eclipsing last year's mark of No. 13 by College Soccer News. UCSB is ranked seventh in this year's CSN preseason poll and No. 9 in Soccer America's.
UCSB will put its No. 4 ranking on the line when they open regular season play against No. 20 Cal on Friday, September 2nd in the Gauchos' adidas Classic held in the newly redeveloped Harder Stadium. UCSB will close out its tournament with No. 6 Virginia on Sunday, September 4th.
Santa Barbara, however, will take to the pitch first against crosstown rival Westmont College in a preseason scrimmage this weekend, Saturday, August 27th at 7:00 p.m. in Harder Stadium.