September 26, 2006

No. 19 UCSB Takes on Rival Cal State Northridge Before Coming Home to Face Michigan This Week

Sept. 26, 2006

This Week's Schedule

Wednesday, September 27, 2006
No. 19 UC Santa Barbara (5-3-0, 2-0-0) at Cal State Northridge (2-3-3, 0-0-2)
Matador Soccer Field • Kickoff 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 30, 2006
No. 19 UC Santa Barbara (5-3-0) vs. University of Michigan (5-4-1)
Harder Stadium • Kickoff 7:00 p.m.

UCSB Outlasts Fullerton, 2-1
Following non-conference matches against Illinois-Chicago and Loyola Marymount, Santa Barbara resumed Big West action last week with a 2-1 win at Cal State Fullerton. Looking to extend their winning streak over the Titans to six games, the Gaucho offense was held in check during a scoreless first half and they recorded only six shots. As it has been all season, the second half was a different story. UCSB took a 1-0 lead in the 70th minute when midfielder Bryan Byrne collected a deflection on the right sideline, dribbled into the box and scored. The Titans responded with the equalizer with under six minutes to play when Eugene Brooks punched a cross past Kyle Reynish, forcing overtime. Santa Barbara would not go quietly, however, and Nick Perera came through with the golden goal at the 105:25 mark in the second overtime period, lifting UCSB to its second conference victory. Brook's goal was the first the Gauchos have allowed in a victory this season.

Gauchos Upset By Aggies, 1-0
After the win at Cal State Fullerton, UCSB fell behind early at UC Davis and never recovered, ultimately losing 1-0. At the 18:13 mark forward Sule Anibaba took a pass from midfielder Nicholas Lind and one-timed the ball from about 15 yards out on the left side. Kyle Reynish's leaping attempt to block the shot failed and it found the back of the net for the game's only goal. The Gauchos, who out-shot the Aggies 11-7 in the match, including an eight to two second half advantage, were unable to capitalize on their opportunities and were shutout for the second time this season. Both teams recorded four shots on goal. Davis keeper Charles Warne posted four saves in the match, preserving the Aggies' third victory over the Gauchos in the all-time series.

Scouting the Matadors
• UCSB will wrap up its longest road trip of the season this week when it faces Big West foe Cal State Northridge Wednesday afternoon. The Gauchos and Matadors have squared off 27 times in what has become the conference's most heated rivalry, with CSUN holding a narrow 12-11-4 advantage in the all-time series. The two programs have combined to win the last five league titles.

• Santa Barbara had a difficult time figuring Northridge out last season, posting an 0-2-1 record against the reigning conference champs. The Gauchos and Matadors battled to a 2-2 overtime tie in their first meeting at Harder October 8 and CSUN edged UCSB 1-0 in Northridge November 2. The two teams locked horns again in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, with the Matadors coming out on top 3-2. The Gauchos' last defeated Cal State Northridge 2-1 November 9, 2004 at home.

• Northridge brings a 2-3-3 overall record and 0-0-2 conference mark into Wednesday's showdown after recording a couple of 1-1 ties against UC Riverside and Cal Poly last week. CSUN is led by senior forward Ryan Rossi who has scored a team-high three goals, while junior midfielder Fergie Agwu has tallied two to go with a pair of assists. Sophomore goalkeeper Kevin Guppy has spent every minute between the posts and has a 1.04 goals against average with 30 saves.

Scouting the Wolverines
• After the midweek showdown with the Matadors, the Gauchos come home to face the University of Michigan. Saturday's meeting will be second-ever between the two schools. Powered by a pair of goals by Dan Young, UCSB won the first match up 5-3 at the 2002 Michigan State Classic.

• The Wolverines enter Saturday's contest with a 5-4-1 overall record after tying 20th-ranked Indiana 2-2 on Sunday. Freshman forward Perica Marosevic headlines the Michigan offense, with a team-high five goals and two assists in 2006. Sophomore defender Michael Holoday has found the net three times this season and dished out one assist. Freshman keeper Patrick Sperry has played in every game for the Wolverines and owns a 1.47 goals against average and 40 saves.

Back On Top
After finishing second in the Big West Conference last season--one game behind Cal State Northridge--19th-ranked UCSB finds itself back on top of the standings following a 2-0 win over Cal Poly September 5 and last week's overtime win at Cal State Fullerton. Last season the Gauchos won their first three conference match-ups before consecutive ties with the Matadors and UC Irvine. In fact, it wasn't until the 1-0 loss November 2 at Northridge that Santa Barbara was knocked out of first place. With the exception of the final two weeks of 2005 following that defeat, UCSB has held at least a share of the conference lead dating back to the start of the 2004 season.

Overtime To Shine
Last Thursday's win over Cal State Fullerton marked the first time this season that one of UCSB's matches went into extra periods. After the Gauchos out-shot the Titans 3-2 in the first overtime period, they prevailed in the second on Nick Perera's game-winning shot in the 106th minute. Santa Barbara has been very successful in overtime recently, winning or tying 10 of their last 11 matches that have required extra periods over the course of the last two seasons. Last season, the Gauchos battled Virginia to a double overtime tie in week one and outlasted UC Davis 3-2 October 26. In UCSB's historical 2004 campaign, six of the team's school-record 21 wins came in overtime. In fact, the last time the Gauchos lost an extra period contest was the 2004 National Championship match, when they fell to Indiana 3-2 in penalty kicks after the two teams were deadlocked at 1-1 after double overtime.

A Balanced Attack
Through eight games head coach Tim Vom Steeg has gotten production from a number of players on his roster as eleven different Gauchos have already hit the scoreboard in 2006. As far as putting the ball in the net goes, seven different players have tallied a total of 12 goals thus far with Bongomin Otii and Eric Avila scoring five and two goals respectively. Just as interesting, the Gauchos have shown the ability to finish from up front as well as the middle. Forwards Tino Nuñez and Nick Perera have found the net in addition to Otii, while Bryan Byrne and Chris Pontius have scored from their midfield spots along with Avila. With UCSB's ability to send a wide range of players forward, you would also assume the offense gets generated from all over the field. Altogether, Santa Barbara has had nine players notch assists so far this season, with Byrne leading the way with two. By position, two of the assists had been credited to the forward line, six to the midfield, and two to the defense.

Rankings Update
Posting a 1-1-0 record in a week that had two unranked opponents on the schedule, UCSB expectedly slipped in the polls. The Gauchos enter play in week six with a national ranking as high as No. 19, it lowest since opening the 2006 season with a preseason nod of No. 23. In addition to securing the 19th spot in the Soccer America Top 25, the Gauchos fell nine spots to No. 21 in the current College Soccer News rankings after registering higher in that poll than any of the other three for the duration of the season. Rounding out the media polls, Santa Barbara came in at No. 22 in this week's Soccer Times Top 25, falling eight spots from the No. 14 position it held a week ago. Finally, the Gauchos fell out of the NSCAA/adidas coaches poll for the first time since a two week absence at the beginning of last season. UCSB is currently 7th in the ultra competitive Far West Region.

Golden Touch
Sophomore forward Nick Perera gave the Gauchos a huge lift off the bench in last week's 2-1 double overtime win at Cal State Fullerton, coming up with the golden goal in the 106th minute. After getting a couple of good looks earlier in the match, the native of Madrid, Spain scored his first-career goal wearing the blue and gold when he took a free kick at the 105:25 mark. His ball deflected off of the Titan defensive wall and past goalkeeper Kevin Puder sealing the Gauchos' fifth win of the season and sixth consecutive victory over Fullerton. Perera finished the match with three total shots, two of which were on goal. After his tremendous effort against the Titans, he earned the first start of his young career against UC Davis and led the team with four shots in the 1-0 loss.

Byrne Checks In
Perera wasn't the only Gaucho to record his first goal of the season last week, as senior co-captain Bryan Byrne found the back of the net against Cal State Fullerton, as well. The only player in the Big West Conference to tally at least six goals and six assists in 2005, Byrne gave UCSB a 1-0 lead over the Titans in the 70th minute. From his midfield position on the right side, the Castledermot, Ireland native saw a deflection roll down the sideline. After running the ball down, he dribbled into the box from a steep angle and beat the Fullerton keeper for the game's first goal. After notching assists in the week one win over No. 7 Akron and the loss to the 18th-ranked University of Illinois at Chicago, the midfielder is now third on the squad with four points this season. Byrne has a total of nine goals and 11 assists in his career at UCSB.

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