Sept. 9, 2008
First Things First
UC Santa Barbara was picked by the Big West coaches to capture its league-record sixth Big West title, claiming six first-place votes. Over the past seven seasons UCSB has won five league titles and qualified for postseason play six times. The Gauchos are currently ranked No. 6 by College Soccer News, No. 8 by Top Drawer, No. 8 by Soccer Times, No. 10 by Soccer America and No. 13 by the NSCAA. UCSB is also ranked second in the NSCAA Far West poll. The Gauchos have steadily risen in most every poll after winning their first three games, jumping eight spots in the NSCAA poll, seven slots in Soccer America's poll this week, two places in Soccer Times and one spot in the CSN poll.
EST = Especially Successful Trip
The Gauchos travel to Piscataway, N.J. and New York this week to take on Rutgers and Columbia, but traveling cross-country has hardly been a problem for UCSB's men's soccer teams under Tim Vom Steeg. Since taking over the program in 1999, Vom Steeg's Gaucho teams have played 14 games in the eastern time zone and have gone 11-3 with two of those losses coming in the NCAA Tournament. Santa Barbara's lone defeat in Eastern Standard Time during the regular season came August 27, 2006 when the Gauchos lost 1-0 to Virginia in the University of Virginia Tournament.
Gauchos Tame Wildcats & Lions
UCSB had four goals in two games last week from four different players as they defeated Kentucky 1-0 and Loyola Marymount 3-1. Junior David Walker scored the Gauchos' lone goal last Friday, heading in a corner kick from Jon Curry in the fifth minute as UCSB held off Kentucky in a game seen on Fox Soccer Channel. The goal was the first that UK had allowed in its first three games this year. On Sunday, Chris Pontius scored his third goal of the season to get the Gauchos on the board before Martin Hedevag and Michael Tetteh added their first goals of the season in the final seven minutes against LMU. For Hedevag, it was his third career goal in the blue and gold in only four career shots and his first goal since Sept. 29, 2007. Pontius picked up his first assist of the season on Hedevag's goal. Tetteh, a native of Ghana, scored his first collegiate goal from 23 yards out on a counter attack to hand LMU its first loss of the year.
The Gauchos are Streaking
With wins in their first three contests, the Gauchos have extended their regular-season unbeaten streak to 10 games. UCSB has not lost in the regular season since a 2-1 setback to Cal Poly last October 17. In that time, UCSB has outscored its opponents 23-9 while going 9-0-1.
Boxall Joins Another Team
Sophomore defender Michael Boxall was named to Top Drawer Soccer's Team of the Week, the first Gaucho to be honored this season. Boxall has helped limit teams to just two goals in three games this season with his size, speed and athleticism. A native of New Zealand, Boxall played on his home country's Olympic team. Boxall started two of the three group play matches for the Oly-Whites, who were competing in their first-ever Olympics. New Zealand went 0-2-1, tying China and falling to Belgium and Brazil.
Little Big Man
Listed at just 5-foot-4, Bryan Dominguez certainly doesn't play like it. The freshman midfielder has already shown why he was such a highly-touted recruit during the Gauchos' first three games. Dominguez has three assists in his first three collegiate games, including both during UCSB's opening 2-1 victory over Air Force. Though he has yet to find the back of the net himself, it's not for lack of trying. Dominguez has already taken 16 shots, second on the team to Chris Pontius. A PARADE All-American, Dominguez played for the United States' U-17 FIFA World Cup National Team in South Korea in 2007. Dominguez is ranked among CSN's Top-100 Freshmen to Watch this season along with teammate Danny Barrera.
Senior forward Chris Pontius was named to the Missouri Athletic Club (M.A.C.) Hermann Trophy watch list, the fourth consecutive season a Gaucho has made the list. The award, considered college soccer's most prestigious trophy, is presented to the nation's top NCAA Division I player. One of the team's captains, Pontius was also named as a Third-Team Preseason All-America by College Soccer News. He leads the team with seven points - three goals and an assist. Pontius is currently 25th in the nation in points per game, averaging 2.33.
UCSB suffered a big blow when it found out that it would be without both senior defender Kyle Kaveny and junior midfielder C.J. Cintas for the entire season. Kaveny suffered a fractured left ankle in the Gauchos' 4-0 exhibition win over Westmont while Cintas broke his left foot during practice. Each is expected to undergo surgery, costing them the 2008 campaign. Freshman Danny Barrera and sophomore Bongomin Otii have both returned from knee injuries, each getting their first action in last Friday's game against Kentucky. Otii, who redshirted last year, has actually started the past two matches for the Gauchos after he became the first player in program history to score five goals in his first five games during his freshman year of 2006. Barrera, a PARADE All-American last year while at Westlake High, has played 49 minutes over the past two games.
Isn't he good? Freshman Trond Helge Takset has made quite an impact at UCSB, starting all three of the Gauchos' games in goal and the Edisa, Norway product has been as solid as, well, wood. Takset has made five saves in UCSB's first three games, and allowed two total goals for a 0.67 goals against average.
UC Santa Barbara and Rutgers will square off for the first time ever in men's soccer this Friday. The Scarlet Knights are led by sophomore midfielder Dilly Duka, who has a team-high two goals while senior midfielder Kevin McFadden has tallied three assists. Senior goalkeeper Amir Haghshenas has made nine total saves in four games while allowing just three goals. Rutgers has defeated Delaware and Manhattan, lost to Towson and tied St. Peter's.
Leo the Lion
The Gauchos will see an old friend when they take on Columbia on Sunday in New York. The Lions are coached by former UCSB assistant Leo Chappel, now in his third year at the helm. Chappel was an assistant with Santa Barbara from 2001-05 and in 2004 was named by NSCAA the West Region Assistant Coach of the Year after helping lead the Gauchos to the national title game. He is only Columbia's fifth head coach since 1957 and has helped transform the program, bringing in several top young players from around the country. Columbia, which faces Stony Brook on Friday before taking on the Gauchos, has yet to score in its first two games this season, losing 1-0 to DePaul before tying Marquette, 0-0. The Lions have taken just 14 total shots as a team, led by senior forward Felipe Castrillon's four and sophomore midfielder Pepe Carotenuto's three. Junior midfielder Steven Keker is the Lions' top returner after notching five points last year.
Large and In Charge
UCSB welcomes one of its most talented and largest recruiting classes this season. College Soccer News ranked the Gaucho incoming contingent sixth in the nation and tops on the West Coast. A total of 17 new players will don the blue and gold in 2008.
UCSB has already been featured on national television, their 1-0 victory over Kentucky was shown on the Fox Soccer Channel. The next time the Gauchos will be on TV is a Big West battle on Oct. 17 when UCSB travels to Cal Poly.
When the Gauchos return home, both games of the homestand will be broadcast on KCSB with more certain to be added to the schedule. Games can be heard on 91.9 FM or streaming online at www.kcsb.org.
This season presents one of UCSB's most daunting schedules. Following three straight road games, the Gauchos host top-ranked Wake Forest on Sept. 21 in a battle of the past two NCAA champions. The Gauchos will then travel to face No. 7 Indiana on Sept. 27, the team that defeated UCSB in a penalty-kick shootout in the 2004 national championship game. On Oct. 1, the Gauchos will end non-conference play at No. 14 UCLA, the team UCSB defeated for the 2006 title.