October 24, 2006

UCSB Looks to Even Score with Rival Northridge, Remain Atop Big West Standings

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Oct. 24, 2006

This Week's Schedule

Wednesday, October 25, 2006
UC Santa Barbara (10-6-0, 4-2-0) vs. Cal State Northridge (5-5-5, 3-1-3)
Harder Stadium • Kickoff 7:00 p.m.
*Match will be broadcast nationally on tape-delay by CSTV on Friday, October 27th at 8:00 p.m. PST.

Scouting the Matadors
• Wednesday October 25 UCSB will square off with Cal State Northridge in its only game this week, poised to avenge its worst loss of the season--a 5-0 thrashing September 27 in Northridge. The Gauchos and Matadors have met 28 times in what has developed into one of the nation's most heated rivalries, with CSUN holding a 13-11-4 advantage. Northridge got goals from five different players in the first match-up this season, on the way to handing the Gauchos the worst defeat of the Tim Vom Steeg era.

• Santa Barbara had a difficult time figuring Northridge out last season as well, 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 Stadium October 8. CSUN went on to win the second match-up, edging UCSB 1-0 in Northridge November 2. The rivalry then reached an all-time high November 22 when the two teams locked horns again in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. After trading the first four goals of the match, Brian Siu's score in the 39th minute proved to be the difference, as Northridge came out on top 3-2. The win was the first-ever playoff victory for Cal State Northridge. The Gauchos' last defeated the Matadors 2-1 November 9, 2004 at home.

• Northridge, who is currently third in the conference standings with 12 points at 3-1-3, enters Wednesday's match-up with a 5-5-5 overall record after two straight losses to UC Davis and Cal Poly last week. Forward Sunghyun Kim has had a brilliant freshman campaign and leads the squad with 12 points on five goals and two assists. Junior midfielder Fergie Agwu is not far behind with three goals and four assists. Sophomore goalkeeper Kevin Guppy has started every game between the pipes and owns a 1.00 goals against average with 53 saves. CSUN has the Big West's second-ranked offense, averaging 1.67 goals per game, while its defense is third allowing, 1.07 goals per contest.

Conference Heavyweights Battle Again
Its hard to imagine a match-up between UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge this late in the season that doesn't have postseason implications. With the two programs combining to win the last five league titles, this year looks to be no exception as the Gauchos and Matadors are once again competing for the Big West championship. After a conference victory over Cal State Fullerton Saturday--coupled with Northridge's home loss to Cal Poly last Wednesday--the Gauchos are currently in the top spot in the conference standings at 5-2-0 (15 points). The Matadors are third behind second place UC Irvine at 3-1-3 (12 points). A victory Wednesday evening would definitely put Santa Barbara in the driver's seat for the conference crown, while a Northridge win would give the Matadors 15 points and a definite edge over the Gauchos after sweeping the season series.

Welcome Back CSTV
For the second time in as many years, UCSB and Cal State Northridge will showcase their rivalry in a CSTV-televised match at Harder Stadium. In 2005, the Gauchos and Matadors battled to a 2-2 draw in their first meeting of the year with the CSTV cameras rolling. The match will be televised nationally taped delayed with the first airing on Friday, October 27 at 8:00 p.m. (PT). Viewers can also catch the game Sunday, October 29 at 2:00 p.m. and Tuesday October 31 at 4:00 a.m. Santa Barbara's match-up with then-ranked No. 7 UCLA was televised by the Fox Soccer Channel earlier this season.

UCSB Gets Revenge vs. UC Davis
After Sule Anibaba's first half goal gave UC Davis a 1-0 home win three weeks ago, UCSB looked to even the score on their field last Wednesday. The Gauchos did just that, posting a 1-0 shutout victory over the future Big West members on a goal by senior midfielder Bryan Byrne in the 61st minute. After junior forward Andrew Proctor failed to convert on a couple of excellent scoring opportunities early in the first half, he found Byrne for the game's only goal at the 60:37 mark. The Gauchos and Aggies battled down to the game's final minute in what had the makings of a future-Big West rivalry (Davis will officially join the conference in 2007). Playing without reigning Big West Defensive Player of the Year Andy Iro, who was out serving a red card suspension, the Santa Barbara defense limited Davis to just one shot on goal and nine overall in the match. The Gauchos were also limited to nine shots in the win, their second lowest total of 2006.

Gauchos Keep the Ball Rolling Against Fullerton
Following the victory over UC Davis in its final non-conference match-up of the season, UCSB resumed Big West play with 1-0 home win over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday. The Gauchos came out of the gates firing and out-shot the Titans by a 12-4 margin in the opening period. After several unsuccessful attempts, UCSB finally broke the scoreless tie in the 38th minute when sophomore forward Nick Perera dribbled the ball up field and dished to Andrew Proctor on the left wing. Proctor then spun around and found junior midfielder Tyler Rosenlund, who chipped in the eventual game-winner at the 37:15 mark. The Gauchos got the better of the Titans in what proved to be an extremely physical contest. A total of 29 fouls were called, including nine cautions, with Santa Barbara getting whistled for four yellow and one red card, while Fullerton was issued three yellow cards. UCSB dominated the match offensively, taking 20 total shots to CSF's 10. The win was the Gauchos third straight, a season-high.

Defense Slams the Door
Entering its final three regular season contests, the UCSB defense is playing its best soccer of 2006. With the 1-0 win over Cal State Fullerton last Saturday, the Gauchos have now recorded three straight shutouts--all victories--and held their opponents scoreless five times in the last seven games. Just as impressive, the defense has allowed just one goal in the last 450 minutes of play, a span of five games. With a total of nine shutouts in 16 matches this season, UCSB leads the Big West Conference and ranks 13th nationally with a 0.56 shutout percentage. In fact, of the Gauchos' 10 victories this season, all but one have been shutouts. Only the Titans were able to find the net in a UCSB win this year, getting a goal from Eugene Brooks in the 2-1 win September 21. With the Gauchos' biggest rival Cal State Northridge coming to town for a rematch after scoring five times in the team's first meeting, Santa Barbara will need another superb effort defensively to come out on top.

How The Big West is Won
After defeating the Titans last week, UCSB improved to 4-2-0 in Big West play and recaptured sole possession of first place in the conference standings. With help from a much-improved Cal Poly squad (the Mustangs defeated Cal State Northridge and tied UC Irvine last week), the Gauchos are currently atop the BWC standings with 15 points. The Anteaters are second with 13 points at 4-2-1, while the Matadors are a close third with 12 at 3-1-3. Picked to take home the conference crown for the fifth consecutive year, UCSB dropped out of the top spot for the first time this season on September 27 after falling to reigning Big West champion Northridge, 5-0. The Gauchos moved back into first place after defeating conference-leading Irvine the following week, only to slip again following a 1-0 shocker at UC Riverside October 11. With contenders CSUN and UCI left on the schedule, as well as UCR, there is no doubt that the Gauchos control their own destiny in pursuit of a fourth Big West title in the last six years. Two of those games will be at Harder Stadium, where Santa Barbara is undefeated in conference play in 2006.

Senior Leadership
All four of the seniors on the Gauchos' roster have led by example in 2006 and co-captain Bryan Byrne has been no exception. The Castledermot, Ireland native is second on the team in overall scoring with 10 points after netting his second goal of the year--and first game-winner--in the Gauchos' 1-0 win over UC Davis October 18. Coming off the bench for just the third time this season, Byrne collected a ball from Andrew Proctor in the box and fired a low shot past Aggie goalkeeper Charles Warne to his left at the 60:37 mark for his 10th-career goal. In addition, Byrne has been setting the table for his teammates all season and leads the team and the Big West with six assists. After finishing 2005 as the only player in the conference to tally at least six goals and six assists, he has already racked up that many this year with at least three more games to play.

Game Shape
After missing the first eight games of the season with a foot injury, junior midfielder Tyler Rosenlund has started the last seven contests and continues to look better each week. Rosenlund got in the scoring column for the first time two weeks ago since returning to the lineup, recording assists on both of the Gauchos' goals in the 2-0 victory over Cal Poly October 14. Last week, he scored his first goal of 2006, lifting Santa Barbara to its third-straight win with a 1-0 victory over Cal State Fullerton. The Port Coquitlam, British Columbia native took a cross from Andrew Proctor just as he was entering the box and shot up over his defender. The ball hit the crossbar, bounced straight down and in past Titan keeper Brent Douglas for the eventual game-winner at the 37:15 mark. A MAC Hermann Trophy Candidate in 2005, Rosenlund has finally gotten his legs back and has made a noticeable difference in the Gaucho midfield.

Follow Me
Junior forward Andrew Proctor was in the starting lineup in both games last week and came up big, tallying assists on both Gauchos goals. The first came against UC Davis, when he dribbled a ball on the left wing and into the box roughly 15 minutes into the second period. After he was tackled by a defender, the Burnaby, British Columbia native made a tremendous recovery to get back on his feet, recover the ball and cross through the box for Bryan Byrne, who put in the game-winner at the 60:37 mark. Three days later, Proctor found Tyler Rosenlund for the game's only goal in the 38th minute in the win over Cal State Fullerton. Proctor took a pass from Nick Perera on the left wing, spun around eluding a defender, and dished to Rosenlund just as he was entering the box for the score. He now has a total of three assists to go with one goal for eight points this season.

Master of His Domain
Senior goalkeeper Kyle Reynish has been tremendous this season and even better recently. After recording a season-high eight saves in the 2-0 win over Cal Poly October 14, Reynish posted consecutive shutouts last week in wins over UC Davis and Cal State Fullerton. Once the Gauchos took a 1-0 lead against both the Aggies and the Titans, the Valencia, Calif. native made several critical stops in each game to preserve the shutout. Reynish leads the Big West with nine shutouts in 16 games this year, tying his a career-high set as a junior last season. In addition to leading the conference in shutouts, he ranks among the conference's top-three keeper's in every statistical category, including goals against average (0.86), saves (62), and save percentage (.816). Reynish is also one of the biggest reasons why Santa Barbara has the conference's top ranked defense, allowing 14 goals in 16 games for a 0.88 goals against average.