November 16, 2010

Gauchos Dominate Big West Honors

Nov. 16, 2010

2010 All-Big West Teams Get Acrobat Reader

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Big West Conference's yearly men's soccer awards were announced on Tuesday and UC Santa Barbara was honored with at least a portion of all six major awards and had nine players named to all-conference teams.

Junior Danny Barrera was named the Big West Midfielder of the Year for the second consecutive season and senior Sam Hayden was also a repeat honoree, earning his second straight Big West Goalkeeper of the Year honor.

Senior Michael Boxall was selected as the conference's Defensive Player of the Year while sophomore Sam Garza shared Offensive Player of the Year honors with UC Irvine's Amani Walker. Additionally, David Opoku was named the Big West Freshman of the Year.

Head coach Tim Vom Steeg rounded out the major awards, earning Big West Coach of the Year for the third time in his career.

Sophomore midfielder Machael David and junior midfielder Luis Silva joined Garza, Barrera, Boxall and Hayden on the All-Big West First Team. Junior defender Peter McGlynn joined Opoku on the All-Big West Second Team. Rounding out the Gaucho award recipients was junior defender Chris Hunter, who garnered Honorable Mention accolades.

UCSB led all schools with nine All-Big West selections, including a league-high six first team honorees for the second year in a row. In all, five of those six first team all-stars repeated from last season.

Barrera is the first player to win back-to-back Midfielder of the Year awards and the first consecutive award winner of any kind since former UCSB star Andy Iro won three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards from 2005-07. Barrera has been key to the Gauchos' attack, scoring four goals and dishing out seven assists for 15 points. He is ranked second in the league in assists and ranks eighth in points. Six of his seven assists came against conference foes, the second-best figure in league. Barrera also tallied a pair of game-winning goals, both coming in back-to-back games against Duke (Oct. 15) and UC Riverside two days later. He is also quickly moving up the all-time Big West list, ranking eighth with 21 career assists. The All-Big West First Team honor is the second of Barrera's career.

Hayden is the first goalkeeper to earn consecutive Goalkeeper of the Year honors since UCSB standout Dan Kennedy did so in 2003-04. The senior ranks second in the Big West in goals against average (0.72), second in shutouts (8), third in save percentage (.814) and is tied for fifth in saves (57). Hayden has had six games with five or more saves this season, including a season-best six in the 2-0 victory over UCLA (Sept. 24). On the Big West career charts, Hayden is tied for sixth with 24 career shutouts, while he owns the best goals against average in league history at 0.73. Hayden also is a two-time All-Big West First Team pick.

Boxall becomes the seventh UCSB defender to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. He is a key figure in the Gaucho backline, part of a defense that has allowed just 15 goals in 20 matches, for a 0.75 per game average. Boxall has been dominant in marking opposing teams' top players, helping UCSB allow one goal or less in 17 of its 20 matches and 8.25 shots per game. The senior is now a three-time All-Big West selection and a two-time first team honoree.

Garza had an immediate impact on the Gaucho offense during his first season in the blue and gold. The transfer from Denver has scored nine goals and added six assists for 24 points, tying for first in the league in points, tied for second in goals and tied for third in assists. Garza was a force to be reckoned with during conference play, scoring five times and adding two assists for 12 points in nine games. He has been a consistent performer in his 19 games, recording at least one point in all but eight matches and at least two shots in 18 outings. Garza also showed his big play ability when he recorded the 25th hat trick in Big West history on Oct. 23 against Cal State Northridge, converting on all three of his shots on goal during the contest.

Opoku has also proved to be a great addition to the Gaucho attack. The freshman is tied for fifth in the league in points (17) and goals (6) and tied for seventh in assists (5). Opoku, who started 13 of his 19 matches played, also picked up a pair of game-winners and needed only 28 shots to score his six goals. He also had a pair of matches in which he scored a goal and an assist, one of them coming in the Big West Tournament semifinal overtime win over Cal Poly. In that contest, he scored the equalizer and had the game-winning assist.

Vom Steeg is in his 12 year at the helm of the Gaucho men's soccer program. He has compiled a 149-48-24 record during his coaching career as a member of the Big West and UCSB has gone 170-65-25 overall under his tutelage. After getting out to a 0-2-2 start this season, Vom Steeg's Gauchos rebounded to earn their ninth consecutive berth into the NCAA Tournament with a 13-4-3 record. UCSB finished second in the Big West regular season standings with a 7-2-1 league record and won the Big West Tournament for the first time. The Gauchos have won 10 or more games for the 10th straight year. Vom Steeg was also named Big West Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2005.

Silva has earned his second consecutive All-Big West First Team honor and his third straight conference accolade. The junior is third on the team with his 16 points, is tied second for goals (6) and has tallied four assists. Silva hit his stride during the conference season, scoring all six of his goals in Big West games. The midfielder provided game-winners in victories over Cal Poly (Oct. 12), UC Riverside (Nov. 6) and in the Big West Tournament final against Cal State Fullerton (Nov. 13). Silva was also named the Big West Tournament MVP last Saturday.

David, who was named the 2009 Big West Freshman of the Year, earned his second consecutive All-Big West honor. The sophomore, who plays as a defensive midfielder, was a key component of the Gauchos' defense all season. David started all 19 of the games he played and has recorded a team-leading 1,781 minutes on the field. He tallied two assists, but more impressively helped UCSB limit its opposition to just 8.2 shots per game.

Defenders McGlynn and Hunter were also honored for their contributions to the UCSB defensive efforts this season.

McGlynn was named to the All-Big West Second Team, marking the junior's first career honor. The defender started 18 games for the Gauchos and has also contributed on the offensive side of the ball, scoring the game-winning goal in the 2-1 victory over UC Davis (Oct. 2) and assisting one of Garza's three goals in the win over Northridge (Oct. 23).

Hunter, who is in his first season with the Gauchos after transferring from Yavapai College, started and played in 18 games for the Gauchos. He has helped UCSB contain its opposition to just 15 goals and 0.75 goals per match, which currently is tied for fourth with the 2009 team in the UCSB record books. Hunter also scored a goal in the 4-3 rollercoaster win over UC Riverside (Oct. 17).

UCSB will host Denver - which received an at-large berth - in the First Round of the 2010 NCAA Men's Soccer Championship on Thursday, Nov. 18 at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium at 7 pm.

Tickets to the Gauchos' NCAA Tournament First Round game, which will be played at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium at 7 pm, can be purchased by calling (805) 893-UCSB, visiting the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or online by clicking here.

Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets online and print their ticket at home to skip lines at the ticket booth on game day. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth, high school and college students.

Thursday's game will be broadcast KZSB AM 1290 and online here.

UCSB is the proud host of the 2010 NCAA Men's College Cup, which will take place Dec. 10 and 12 at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. This marks the first time since the 2004 season that the Cup has been held on the West Coast. All-Session passes for the College Cup can be purchased by calling (805) 893-UCSB, visiting the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or buy online by clicking here.

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