2006 Gauchos Schedule Features Big West Rivals, Five NCAA Tournament Qualifiers

Feb. 16, 2006

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

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UC Santa Barbara's 2006 women's soccer schedule will include five matches against teams that took part in last season's NCAA Tournament and a trip to Davidson and Central Florida, head coach Paul Stumpf announced today.

The Gauchos will open the 2006 campaign on Friday, Aug. 25 when they travel to Los Angeles to take-on USC, a team that advanced to the second round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament before being knocked-out by Cal State Fullerton of the Big West Conference. UCSB will remain on the road for three more matches, traveling to San Diego (Aug. 27), Loyola Marymount (Sept. 1) and San Diego State (Sept. 3), before returning to Santa Barbara for its home-opener against Wisconsin, a traditional power and another 2006 NCAA Tournament participant, on Sept. 8.

The match against Wisconsin will open a three-game home stand for the Gauchos. Tulsa will come to town on Sept. 10 and then Arizona State makes a Harder Stadium appearance on Sept. 15.

Following the three contests in Santa Barbara, UCSB will hit the road for his longest, in terms of distance, road trip of the season. The Gauchos will travel to North Carolina to play Davidson University on Sept. 22 and then to Orlando to play Central Florida on Sept. 24.

"It is kind of fun and exciting to play in places you've never played before and to play teams you are not used to seeing," Stumpf said. "A long trip early in the season can be a very good way for a team to grow together and the trip to North Carolina and Florida will give us that opportunity."

When UCSB returns from its cross-country trip, it will host another unfamiliar team. Gonzaga, another NCAA team last season, will play in Santa Barbara on Sept. 29. On Oct. 1, the Gauchos travel to play future Big West foe UC Davis and then conference play starts for real.

UCSB will host Long Beach State (Oct. 6) and UC Irvine (Oct. 8) to open league play. The 49ers are one of the emerging programs in the league and the Anteaters will be playing their first season under former U.S. National Team coach April Heinrichs. The following weekend, the Gauchos travel to Cal State Fullerton (Oct. 13), the 2005 Big West Champion and a team that advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 before losing a 2-1 heartbreaker to Virginia, and UC Riverside (Oct. 15). The Highlanders also went to the NCAA Tournament in 2005 before losing in a shootout to Colorado.

The Gauchos will then play their final three home matches of the season, two against league opponents, Cal State Northridge (Oct. 20) and Pacific (Oct. 22) and a final non-conference outing against St. Mary's (Oct. 26).

UCSB will complete the regular season on Oct. 29 when it travels to traditional Central Coast rival, Cal Poly.

"Rivalries in our conference are special," Stumpf said. "We root for the Big West schools in non-conference games, but our games within the league are extremely competitive and played at a high level. Next season should be another outstanding one for the Big West."

According to the NCAA's women's soccer Ratings Percentage Index released following the 2005 season, the Big West Conference was ranked fourth out of 30 Division I conferences. The league had two teams ranked among the top-40, four among the top-50 and six among the top-100.

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