Defending Champs Earn No. 12 Seed In NCAA Tournament

Nov. 19, 2007

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - After winning its fifth Big West Conference Championship in a seven-year span last week, the 7th-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team was awarded a No. 12 seed in the 2007 NCAA Tournament field of 48, it was announced Monday. The Gauchos, who are making a sixth consecutive appearance in the tournament, will receive a first round bye and await the winner of the first round match-up between Portland and Washington.

This marks just the second seed for UCSB in program history and first since 2004. The Gauchos were awarded a No. 9 seed three years ago after finishing with an overall record of 17-2-1 and spending seven weeks with a No. 1 national ranking.

Ranked No. 7 in this week's Soccer America Top 25, UCSB clinched a share of the Big West title with its thrilling 2-1 victory at Cal State Fullerton November 10 and then won the crown outright with a 3-2 comeback win at Cal State Northridge last Tuesday. The defending national champions went unbeaten in their final seven matches of the regular season and enter the NCAA Tournament with an overall record of 12-3-4.

The Gauchos will host either the Pilots or Huskies Wednesday, November 28 at Harder Stadium.

Portland finished the season with a 10-5-5 overall record and a third place finish in the West Coast Conference at 6-2-4. Washington enters postseason play with an overall record of 8-7-4 and finished fifth in Pac-10 play at 3-4-3.

"We're very happy to get a first round bye this year," head coach Tim Vom Steeg said. "We're obviously excited to have a home game in the second round and either Portland or Washington has to travel to our place to play us in front of our fans. I know we will have an excellent crowd and it should be a lot of fun."

Unseeded in the 2006 NCAA Tournament, UCSB drew San Diego State in the first round for the second consecutive year and came from behind to defeat the Aztecs 2-1 at Harder Stadium. The Gauchos then traveled to top-ranked and third-seeded SMU and came away with a convincing 3-1 victory, before winning 2-1 at Old Dominion three days later. From there, UCSB returned to Santa Barbara to host its second Elite Eight match in a three-year span and erased a 2-1 halftime deficit to defeat Northwestern 3-2 and return to the College Cup.

After battling second-seeded Wake Forest to a scoreless tie in the semifinals in St. Louis, Santa Barbara edged the Demon Deacons 4-3 in a penalty kick shoot-out to return to the national championship match. Nick Perera scored just 2:12 in and Eric Avila put in the eventual game-winner as the Gauchos defeated UCLA 2-1 to complete an incredible tournament run and claim the program's first NCAA National Championship.

Santa Barbara is a combined 12-3-2 in NCAA Tournament play dating back to the first season it qualified for the Big Dance in 2002, and owns a perfect 5-0-0 mark in opening (first or second) round matches. All five of those victories have come at Harder Stadium.

Tickets prices for the match can be purchased at the UCSB Athletic Ticket Office or by calling 805-893-UCSB. They can also be purchased at the gate the day of the event, one hour prior to kickoff. Prices are $10 for adults and $5 children under 12 and students with a valid ID.