Gauchos Return Home to Battle Two Top-25 Teams
Sept. 16, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 21 Evansville (5-0-0) at UCSB's Harder Stadium Game will be broadcast by KCSB 91.9 FM and also available at www.kcsb.org
Sunday, September 21, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 1 Wake Forest (5-0-0) at UCSB's Harder Stadium Game will be broadcast by KCSB 91.9 FM and also available at www.kcsb.org
A Long Way Down
Following a pair of losses to unranked teams last weekend, UC Santa Barbara felt the repercussions in the latest polls. The Gauchos dropped from No. 6 to 16 in College Soccer News, No. 8 to 14 by Top Drawer, No. 8 to 19 by Soccer Times and No. 13 to 24 by the NSCAA. UCSB fell all the way out of Soccer America's poll after being ranked 10th last week. UCSB also dropped two slots in the NSCAA Far West poll, falling to fourth.
The L Word
Losing consecutive games is a rare thing for Santa Barbara. The back-to-back losses occurred for only the eighth time in the 10 seasons Tim Vom Steeg has been UCSB's head coach. It is the first losing streak the Gauchos have had since Sept. 23-27, 2006 when they lost to UC Davis and Cal State Northridge, which was the last time UCSB has dropped consecutive matches. This is only the fourth time in eight years that a Vom Steeg-coached UCSB team has lost at least two games in a row, whereas the other four sets of consecutive defeats occurred in Vom Steeg's first two seasons coaching the Gauchos (1999-2000).
UCSB had one of its worst road trips in recent history, going 0-2 away from Harder Stadium for the first time since 2000. The Gauchos, previously ranked as high as sixth, lost 3-2 to Rutgers last Friday before dropping a 3-1 decision on Sunday at Columbia. The two defeats were the first on the same road trip since the Gauchos lost 3-1 to UNLV on October 6 and 2-1 to New Mexico on October 8, 2000.
All Good Things ...
... Must come to an end. The losses at Rutgers and Columbia ended a pair of impressive streaks the Gauchos had going for them. UCSB had previously been 11-3 while playing in Eastern Standard Time under Tim Vom Steeg, with only one of those losses coming in the regular season until this past weekend. Also, the Gauchos had previously held a 10-game unbeaten streak in the regular season, which dated back to last October.
Battle on the Beach
This Sunday presents a showdown of the past two NCAA champions when UCSB hosts Wake Forest in the inaugural Santa Barbara Challenge Cup. The contest is scheduled to be the first of an annual Challenge Cup event with the Gauchos hosting Indiana, the team that beat them in a penalty-kick shootout for the NCAA title in 2004, next season.
Seeing more action lately, and rightfully so, has been junior Martin Hedevag. The native of Gothenburg, Sweden made his first career start in last Friday's game against Rutgers after tallying his first goal of the year in the win over LMU. Against Rutgers, Hedevag picked up two assists and is second on the team with four points. Hedevag has three career goals at UCSB, all coming in his first four shots. Last year he scored only two goals on three shots all year long and Sunday's goal was Hedevag's first since Sept. 29, 2007.
About the Aces
For the first time since 1996, Evansville is 5-0-0 and has begun receiving votes in several of the national polls. The Purple Aces are led by sophomore forward Mike Luttrull, who has already scored five goals - matching his total output from last season - and assisted on another. Freshman forward Tyler Crawford has totaled eight points and sophomore forward Tom Irvin has seven. Sophomore midfielder Robby Lynch, who was the Missouri Valley Conference's Freshman of the Year last season, tallied five points last weekend - two goals and an assist - to earn Brine/MVC Offensive Player of the Week honors after leading Evansville to their first ProRehab Aces Soccer Classic championship since 2003. This will be the first time UCSB and Evansville have ever played.
The Take on Wake
The last time UCSB and Wake Forest met up came during the second semifinal of the 2006 College Cup in St. Louis when the Gauchos won on penalty kicks, propelling them to the national title. Sunday should provide more good theater. The Demon Deacons, 5-0-0 and topping every national poll, are led by senior forward Marcus Tracy, who was named the College Cup Most Outstanding Player when he helped Wake Forest win the NCAA title last year. Tracy has already scored five goals and helped on another and has been named to the Hermann Trophy watch list. Joining Tracy on the list are teammates Cody Arnoux, a junior forward, and Sam Cronin, a senior midfielder. Wake Forest is coming off a 5-0 victory over Clemson in the ACC opener and has already knocked off UCLA this year. In fact, the Demon Deacons have not lost a match since November 18, 2007 when they lost to Boston College.
Kaveny, Cintas Out for Year
UCSB suffered a big blow when it found out that it would be without both senior defender Kyle Kaveny and junior midfielder C.J. Cintas for the entire season. Kaveny suffered a fractured left ankle in the Gauchos' 4-0 exhibition win over Westmont while Cintas broke his left foot during practice. Each is expected to undergo surgery, costing them the 2008 campaign.
Several newcomers to the Gaucho soccer program have already made an impact this season. UCSB has started as many as five freshman in a game (Bryan Dominguez, Peter McGlynn, Luis Silva, Trond Helge Takset and Michael Tetteh) with four others (Danny Barrera, Christian Dahlskog, David Ponce and Tim Pontius) seeing significant minutes.
Senior forward Chris Pontius was named to the Missouri Athletic Club (M.A.C.) Hermann Trophy watch list, the fourth consecutive season a Gaucho has made the list. The award, considered college soccer's most prestigious trophy, is presented to the nation's top NCAA Division I player. One of the team's captains, Pontius was also named as a Third-Team Preseason All-America by College Soccer News. He leads the team with seven points - three goals and an assist - and also leads UCSB with 29 shots and seven shots on goal.
Little Big Man
Listed at just 5-foot-4, Bryan Dominguez certainly doesn't play like it. During the Gauchos' first three games the freshman midfielder has already shown why he was such a highly-touted recruit. Dominguez has three assists in his first three collegiate games, including both during UCSB's opening 2-1 victory over Air Force. Though he has yet to find the back of the net himself, it's not for lack of trying. Dominguez has already taken 19 shots, second on the team to Chris Pontius. A PARADE All-American, Dominguez played for the United States' U-17 FIFA World Cup National Team in South Korea in 2007. Dominguez is ranked among CSN's Top-100 Freshmen to Watch this season along with teammate Danny Barrera.
Boxall Joins Another Team
Sophomore defender Michael Boxall was named to Top Drawer Soccer's Team of the Week for the week of September 8, the first Gaucho to be honored this season. Boxall has helped limit teams to just two goals in three games this season with his size, speed and athleticism. A native of New Zealand, Boxall played on his home country's Olympic team. Boxall started two of the three group play matches for the Oly-Whites, who were competing in their first-ever Olympics. New Zealand went 0-2-1, tying China and falling to Belgium and Brazil.
First Things First
UC Santa Barbara was picked by the Big West coaches to capture its league-record sixth Big West title, claiming six first-place votes. Over the past seven seasons UCSB has won five league titles and qualified for postseason play six times.
Large and In Charge
UCSB welcomed one of its most talented and largest recruiting classes this season. College Soccer News ranked the Gaucho incoming contingent sixth in the nation and tops on the West Coast. A total of 17 new players will don the blue and gold in 2008.
UCSB has already been featured on national television, their 1-0 victory over Kentucky was shown on the Fox Soccer Channel. The next time the Gauchos will be on TV is a Big West battle on Oct. 17 when UCSB travels to Cal Poly, also live on FSC.
Both games of this homestand will be broadcast on KCSB with more contests certain to be added to the schedule. Games can be heard on 91.9 FM or streaming online at www.kcsb.org.
This season presents one of UCSB's most daunting schedules. Following three straight road games, the Gauchos host top-ranked Wake Forest on Sept. 21 in a battle of the past two NCAA champions. The Gauchos will then travel to face No. 7 Indiana on Sept. 27, the team that defeated UCSB in a penalty-kick shootout in the 2004 national championship game. On Oct. 1, the Gauchos will end non-conference play at No. 14 UCLA, the team UCSB defeated for the 2006 title.