Gauchos Claim Four Major Big West Awards

Nov. 17, 2009

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara earned four of the six major Big West men's soccer awards and had a school-record 10 players earn all-conference honors it was announced by the league office on Tuesday after a vote of the Big West's head coaches.

UCSB claimed Defensive Player of the Year in senior Martin Hedevag, Midfielder of the Year in sophomore Danny Barrera, Freshman of the Year in Machael David and Goalkeeper of the Year in Sam Hayden.

Senior David Walker, sophomore Luis Silva and junior Michael Boxall joined Hedevag, Barrera and Hayden on the All-Big West First Team. Freshman Michael Nonni and sophomore Michael Tetteh were selected to the Second Team with David. Rounding out the honorees is sophomore Waid Ibrahim, who was named an All-Big West Honorable Mention.

"It's great to have such a young team and such great players acknowledged for their hard work and recognized by our conference peers," said head coach Tim Vom Steeg.

Hayden earned Big West Conference Goalkeeper of the Year after tying the conference's record for shutouts in a season with a school-record 14 so far this year. The junior, who transferred to UCSB this season after two seasons at Yavapai College, leads the Big West in goals against average (0.75), saves (75) and shutouts (14), while ranking second in save percentage (.824). His goals against average ranks 29th in the NCAA and his save percentage is 30th in the country. Hayden was especially stingy against Big West opposition as he allowed just one goal in 10 matches, recorded 43 saves and shutout nine of those 10 opponents.

In addition to setting a new UCSB record for single season shutouts, he also set a new school record for consecutive shutout minutes when he recorded 595:16 straight minutes between the pipes without a goal, spanning from Oct. 18 until Nov. 14. Hayden is the first keeper from UCSB to claim Goalkeeper of the Year accolades since Kyle Reynish split the honor in 2006.

Hedevag, a senior from Gothenburg, Sweden, emerged as one of the top defenders in the league this season. After moving from forward to defense early in the year, Hedevag was the heart of a unit that shut out 14 opponents, including nine of its 10 foes in Big West play. His play was instrumental in UCSB allowing just 16 goals to this point in the year after allowing 39 goals just a year ago. Despite his key defensive role, Hedevag also moved up to take part in the potent UCSB attack, collecting 11 points on four goals and three assists. His selection as Defensive Player of the Year continues a tradition of stalwart defenders as a UCSB player has collected the award six times since its inception in 2001.

Barrera, a sophomore from Thousand Oaks, Calif., is a driving force for the UCSB offense in just his second season in the blue and gold. Barrera has played and started in all 21 matches for the Gauchos, registering five goals and a team and league-leading eight assists. Barrera showed a flair for the big stage as he collected a goal and an assist against Pittsburgh, a goal and an assist against Indiana and a career-high five-point effort via two goals and an assist against UC Davis. His Midfielder of the Year honor marks the second time in three seasons a UCSB player has won the award. Ciaran O'Brien was the last Gaucho to receive the honor in 2007.

David, who redshirted the 2008 season, became a top-notch playmaker for the Gauchos in his first season on the active roster. From his midfield position, the rookie scored a goal and added four assists for six points. David's first collegiate goal came under the bright lights of a national TV audience as he scored on a breakaway against perennial national power Indiana on Fox Soccer Channel. David also proved to be a solid defender as he was part of a group that has allowed just 16 goals in 21 matches. His Freshman of the Year honor marks the third time that a UCSB rookie has been named the top newcomer in the league. Current MLS player Eric Avila was the last, claiming the award in 2005.

Another member of the Gauchos' spectacular defense this season, Boxall earned his second All-Big West honor and first career First Team placement. The native of Aukland, New Zealand has logged the most minutes on the pitch for the Gauchos this season and has started in all 21 contests, helping lead UCSB to its 14 shutouts. The defender recently scored his first career goal, tallying the game-winner in the Big West semifinal against Cal State Northridge last Wednesday.

Walker, who earned Honorable Mention accolades in 2008, earned First Team All-Big West honors this season while leading the Gauchos with his seven goals and tying for the team lead with 18 points. The senior forward is tied third in the conference with his 0.35 goals per game average and is fifth with an average of 0.90 points per game. The Orange, Calif. native earned MVP honors earlier this year at the West Virginia University/Nike Classic and has twice been named to the Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week.

Silva, a sophomore midfielder, rounded out the Gauchos' First Team selections. The Los Angeles, Calif. native has been a solid presence in the Gaucho midfield this season, starting 20 games for UCSB. He is fourth on the team with 13 points after notching four goals and five assists. Three of his four goals have been game-winners, tying Ibrahim for the team lead. This is Silva's second career conference honor; he earned Honorable Mention accolades during his rookie year.

Nonni, who hails from West Vancouver, British Columbia, has earned All-Big West Second Team honors during his first season with the Gauchos. The forward is currently tied for the team lead with 18 points (six goals, six assists) with Walker and Barrera and very well could end the year as the first Gaucho freshman to lead the team in points since Willum Thorsson in 1984. Nonni's average of 0.95 points per game is third in the conference and his 0.32 goals per game average is the top mark by a freshman in the conference. ¬

Tetteh has been named to the All-Big West Second Team for his spectacular play this season. The sophomore from Accra, Ghana has played in all 21 contests and has posted a goal and four assists on the year. Incredibly versatile, he has played in both the midfield and in the back for the Gauchos, adding a spark on both ends of the ball.

Rounding out the conference awards for UCSB is Honorable Mention honoree, Ibrahim. The sophomore, who transferred from Santa Barbara City College, has posted five goals and two assists for the Gauchos this season, ranking fifth on the team with his 12 points. Three of Ibrahim's five goals have been game-winners.

UCSB led all Big West schools with its 10 selections, including a league-high six first teamers. The Gauchos have recorded a 15-4-2 overall record this season and earned the Big West Conference regular season title after recording an 8-1-1 record in league play.

"It bodes well for the future that eight of our 10 Big West selections will be returning next year," said Vom Steeg.

UC Irvine's Irving Garcia was named Big West Offensive Player of the Year while Cal State Northridge's Terry Davila earned Coach of the Year accolades.

The Gaucho soccer team will host Wofford, the Southern Conference Champions, at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. UCSB is making its eighth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets to Thursday's match in advance to avoid long lines at Harder Stadium. Please call (805) 893-UCSB, visit the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or click here to buy now and print at home.

Tickets are $10 for adults and seniors and $5 for youth and students.