UCSB Hosts UC Irvine in Big West Tournament Championship

UCSB Hosts UC Irvine in Big West Tournament Championship

Nov. 13, 2009

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• The Schedule
Saturday, November 14, 2009, 7 p.m.
No. 4 UC Santa Barbara (15-3-2) vs. UC Irvine (14-6-0)
at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium
Series record vs. UC Irvine - 32-13-3
Streak - Won 2
Last time out vs. UC Irvine - W, 1-0 (OT2) on Oct. 31, 2009
Game broadcast LIVE by KIST 1490 AM (streaming at UCSBgauchos.com)
Game available on Gametracker

• So We Meet Again
No. 1 seeded UC Santa Barbara will host No. 3 seed UC Irvine in the Big West Conference Tournament final on Saturday night at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. The pairing is a re-match of last season's inaugural league championship game, which was won by the Anteaters, 4-2, on their home field. The winner of the tournament receives the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

• How To Get Your Tickets
To purchase tickets, please call (805) 893-UCSB, visit the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or click here. The first 1,000 students to the men's basketball game against Cal State Los Angeles at 3 p.m. on Saturday will receive a free ticket to the evening's soccer game.

• On The Air
If you can't make it out to Harder Stadium on Saturday, the game will be broadcast live on KIST 1490 AM in Santa Barbara and there will be a live online audio stream here.

• Gauchos Win Sixth Big West Title
With its tie at Cal Poly a week ago Wednesday, UCSB secured the Big West Conference regular season title outright. It marks the Gauchos' sixth conference crown since the league reinstated men's soccer in 2001. In all, UCSB's six regular season championships are the most in Big West history, surpassing former member Fresno State's five regular season crowns. The Gauchos finished the league regular season with an 8-1-1 record and are now tied for the third-most victories in a 10-game conference season in Big West history, while their .850 winning percentage in conference matches is also tied for third-best in Big West lore. This season marked the fourth in the Tim Vom Steeg era (1999-present) that UCSB has recorded one or no conference losses during regular season conference play.

• For The Record
UCSB currently sports a 15-3-2 overall record, marking its most wins in a season since 2006 (17-7-1) and the best start to a year since 2004, when the Gauchos posted a 17-2-1 record in their first 20 games.

• Home Field Advantage
The biggest benefit of the Gauchos' No. 1 seed into this week's tournament is the opportunity to stay at home. UCSB has posted an 9-1 record at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium this year and has not given up a goal on its home pitch in the last seven home matches. The Gauchos' nine home wins mark their most since they posted 11 in 2006 and the last time they recorded just one loss and no ties was in 2004, when they went 10-1-0 at home.

• Gaucho Fans On Pace For National Record
A large part of the Gauchos' home field advantage is the UCSB faithful that show up each match and have put UCSB on course to break the modern-day men's soccer attendance record. The Gauchos are averaging 4,599 fans per game, and with at least one home match left, should top the NCAA record of 3,629 fans per game set by New Mexico in 2005. The unofficial record is held by Connecticut, which averaged 4,297 fans a game in 1982. UCSB has led the nation in average attendance the last two years, averaging 3,435 fans in 2007 and 3,444 in 2008.

• Hayden Sets New Standards
Goalkeeper Sam Hayden set a new UCSB record for single season shutouts on Wednesday and tied the Big West Conference record as the Gauchos posted a 1-0 victory over Cal State Northridge, marking his 14th shutout of the year. The previous UCSB record had been held by Dan Kennedy, who tallied 13 shutouts in 2004. Hayden is now tied with Harry Fields of UNLV for the conference record, which was originally set in 1984. The school and Big West record for total shutouts in a season is 15, set by the 2004 squad. Against Northridge, Hayden also set a new school record for consecutive shutout minutes in a season after recording a total of 585:29 minutes between the pipes without allowing a goal.

• Superman Sam
Speaking of Sam Hayden, the junior currently ranks 11th in the nation and first in the Big West with his 0.60 goals against average, which is on-pace to be second all-time in the UCSB record books behind Kennedy's 0.55 average in 2004. He also leads the Big West and ranks 21st nationally with a .857 saves percentage. In conference play, he allowed just one goal across 10 games for a 0.10 goals against average

• Living In A State Of Denial
The Gauchos now rank third in the country with their .700 shutout percentage. UCSB has allowed just 12 goals this season and just one in the last 12 games. The Gauchos own a 0.58 goals against average, which ranks eighth in the country. The school record for lowest opponent goals per match average was set in 2004 at 0.56. The school record for fewest goals allowed in a season is 14 by the 2004 squad (the record for a season with less than 12 matches is 13 by the 1967 squad).

• Offensive Behavior
While the Gaucho defense has been on fire, the UCSB offense is no slouch in comparison. The Gauchos rank 22nd nationally and lead the Big West with their 1.80 goals per game average. UCSB also leads the conference for points (111), goals (36) and assists (39). The Gauchos have scored in all but two games this season: a 1-0 loss to Cal State Northridge (Oct. 18) and last week's 0-0 tie with Cal Poly.

• A Tale Of Two Halves
Over the last four games, there has been a change in the Gauchos' scoring patterns. In 13 of the Gauchos' first 16 games this season, they scored at least one goal in the opening 45 minutes of play. In the past four contests, the Gauchos have been shutout in the first half. For the season however, the Gauchos' have evenly distributed their goals among both halves with 17 being scored in the first half and 17 in the second.

• RPI Report
The NCAA's third Ratings Percentage Index report was released Tuesday and it has the Gauchos 32nd on the list of all Division I programs, moving up 16 spots since the last report was released in late October. The RPI factors into the seeding of the NCAA Tournament.

• Nonni Knows Goals
Freshman Michael Nonni scored his sixth goal and second game-winner of the season against UC Davis on Saturday. The forward is currently in a three-way tie with senior David Walker and sophomore Danny Barrera for points with 18 total. He currently ranks 88th nationally with an average of 1.00 per game - third in the Big West - and is also 79th in the country with 0.33 assists per game (six total), ranking fourth in conference. If Nonni were to finish the season with the team lead for points, he would be the first UCSB freshman to do so since Willum Thorsson tallied 16 points (five goals, six assists) to lead the 1984 Gauchos.

• Seventh Heaven
Senior David Walker maintained the team lead for goals when he tallied his seventh of the season last Saturday. This season alone, he has more than doubled his career count for goals (now 13 total). He ranks second in the Big West behind UC Irvine's Amani Walker with his 0.37 goals per game average and is fourth in both points per game (0.95) and shots per game (2.42).

• 18 Points And Counting
Along with Nonni and Walker, sophomore Danny Barrera also leads the team - and ranks third in the Big West - with 18 points (five goals, eight assists). He is tops among the Gauchos with eight assists and is second behind UC Irvine's Irving Garcia with his average of 0.40 per game.

• Coming To A Consensus
UCSB has been ranked in all five national polls every week of the season and for the first time this season, four of the five polls have UCSB ranked in the same position: No. 4. Soccer Times, NSCAA, College Soccer News and Soccer America have ranked UCSB fourth while Top Drawer Soccer has the Gauchos at No. 5. In the NSCAA's Far West Region poll, the Gauchos are ranked No. 1. This marks the third week - and second straight - that the Gauchos have been ranked in every poll's top-five this season.

• About The Anteaters
Saturday's match-up will be the third of the season between the Gauchos and the Anteaters and UCSB currently leads the 2009 series 2-0. Irvine and the Big West are led by Irving Garcia's 23 points (seven goals, nine assists) and Amani Walker's nine goals. The Anteaters defeated No. 2 seed Cal Poly 2-1 on a penalty kick in double overtime on Wednesday to advance to tonight's championship game. UCSB and UCI last faced-off in Irvine on Halloween and the game went into double overtime. Sophomore Tim Pontius scored in the 103rd minute to propel UCSB to the victory.

• The Vom Steeg File
In his 11th year leading the Gauchos, head coach Tim Vom Steeg became the winningest coach in Big West history on Oct. 7 when UCSB defeated Cal Poly, 1-0 and then won his 150th game on Oct. 15 with UCSB's 3-0 victory over UC Davis. Vom Steeg has posted a 155-59-22 record at the helm of UCSB and a 134-42-21 record since the program rejoined the Big West in 2001. Vom Steeg is also the winningest coach in UCSB men's soccer history and has turned the Gauchos into an annual national title contender. The 2004 and 2006 NSCAA National Coach of the Year, Vom Steeg guided the Gauchos to the NCAA title in 2006 and the championship game in 2004. He has guided UCSB to five Big West titles in the past eight years and seven consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. He won Big West Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2004 and 2005 and has produced 15 All-Americans.