UCSB Takes Longest Unbeaten Run Since 2016 Into Big West Conference Play

(Photo by Eric Isaacs)
(Photo by Eric Isaacs)
The Schedule
Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m
No. 19 UC Santa Barbara vs Sacramento State (5-5-1)
All-time record vs. the Hornets (W-L-T): 14-5-4
Last meeting: Oct. 3, 2018: at Sacramento State 1, UCSB 0
Saturday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m.
No. 19 UC Santa Barbara at No. 22 Cal State Fullerton (8-2-1)
All-time record vs. the Titans (W-L-T): 33-26-4
Last meeting: October 31, 2019: at UCSB 1, Cal State Fullerton 1 (Big West Tournament FIrst Round / Cal State Fullerton advanced on penalty kick shootout, 5-3)
• Video Streams Available
UCSBGauchos.com will offer a live video broadcast of the Sacramento State game on Wednesday through Big West TV. The "Voice of the Gauchos" Gerry Fall will be on play-by-play duties, while current Gaucho athlete Carson vom Steeg will be providing color commentary throughout the broadcast. An audio-only stream will be available via KCSB-FM 91.9, UCSB's student radio station. 
Saturday's match at Cal State Fullerton will be streamed on Big West TV. Links to all broadcasts can be found on the UCSB men's soccer schedule page.
• Audio Stream Available
Additionally, an audio-only broadcast of the matchup between UCSB and Cal State Fullerton on Saturday will be available on UCSBGauchos.com on the men's soccer schedule page. Sports Information Director Arthur Wilkie will handle the play-by-play during the broadcast, while Carson Vom Steeg will provide color commentary.
• The Gaucho Rewind, Matchdays 10 and 11
UCSB extended its unbeaten streak to eight games with a draw at No. 25 San Diego and a 3-1 win over Cal Poly in the past week. The Gauchos followed up their 3-3 draw with then-No. 1 Stanford with an early midweek trip to Torero Stadium, where Ameyawu Muntari's world-class goal late in the first half got UCSB up early, but two quickfire goals from the hosts after the break gave them the lead until Rodney Michael's second goal in as many games knotted things up at 2-2 in the 69th minute. Against Cal Poly, the Gauchos leapt ahead through Carter Clemmensen via a cross from Michael in the first half. That same combination worked to create UCSB's second goal, but this time it was credited as an own goal after a Cal Poly defender put it in his own net. The visitors pulled one back late, but with under ten mintues to go, Finn Ballard McBride struck from range into the bottom left corner of the net as UCSB won 3-1 for their second victory in a row over Cal Poly dating back to last season.
• Familiar Foes
Last year, the Gauchos also opened Big West play against Sacramento State, playing in the state capitol at Hornet Field. UCSB lost 1-0 for its first loss in a conference-opening match in seven years. The Hornets are seeking a rare away triumph over the Gauchos, having failed to win at Harder Stadium since 1992.
UCSB has become all-too-familiar with Fullerton in recent years, losing to the Titans in the Big West Tournament, either in regulation or in a penalty kick shootout in three of the past four seasons, including last season in the first round, which saw the game end in a score draw but Fullerton advanced 5-3 after penalties. Current UCSB goalkeeper coach David Elias was on the 2015 Fullerton team that defeated the Gauchos at Harder Stadium in the Tournament final.
• Keep it Rolling
The Gauchos are picking up steam at the right time as they head into conference play. Finn Ballard McBride has scored in three of the last four games, Will Baynham has registered a goal or an assist in each of the last five games and in six of the last seven matches. Rodney Michael takes a three-game point streak into Wednesday's match, and of course, the Gauchos have gone eight games unbeaten.
• Scouting the Opposition: Sacramento State
The Hornets carry a .500 record into Wednesday's Big West opener, with their best results having come against No. 25 Air Force and (RV) San Diego. Preseason All-BWC Benji Kikanovic scored the Hornets' first hat trick since 2004 and fifth in the program's Division I history earlier this season, which are his only goals this year.
• Scouting the Opposition: Cal State Fullerton
Head coach George Kuntz's Fullerton side were off to their best start in program history with an 8-0-1 beginning to the campaign, but they head into this week having lost their last two matches away at No. 16 James Madison and defending College Cup champions No. 24 Maryland. Paul Andre-Guerin co-leads the conference in clean sheets along with Ben Roach, also topping the charts in save percentage (.833) and goals-against average (0.79).
• Olympic Kiwis
Senior right wingback Noah Billingsley and junior centerback Hunter Ashworth were successful in representing New Zealand U-23 at the Oceania Football Confederation U-23 Championship in Fiji, winning the tournament after defeating Solomon Islands 5-0 in the final. The Kiwi duo helped their home country qualify for its first Olympics since 2012 at the tournament. In the "Oly-Whites'" final match of the group stage, Billingsley started and scored in New Zealand's comeback 4-2 win against the Solomon Islands.
• Back in the Rankings
Following the Gauchos' 3-3 draw with No. 1 Stanford, UCSB started to get attention in the national polls. On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, Santa Barbara were ranked or receiving votes in all four polls for the first time since 2016, ranked as high as No. 18 in the Top Drawer Soccer poll. This week, the Gauchos moved down a spot to No. 19 in the Top Drawer Soccer rankings, but broke into the College Soccer News Top 30 at No. 27 and received more votes in the United Soccer Coaches poll, as well as maintained their position in the Soccer America poll at No. 24.
• Underclassmen Have the Day
Ben Roach and Finn Ballard McBride's performances in the last week for UCSB have earned them the Big West Defensive and Freshman Player of the Week awards, respectively. Roach was voted as the defensive honoree for the first time in his career after making four saves in the Gauchos' 2-2 draw at No. 25 UC San Diego and making one save in UCSB's 3-1 victory over Cal Poly. Ballard McBride earns his third freshman of the week award in four weeks after scoring the Gauchos' third goal in their win over Cal Poly.
• A Steady Presence
Ben Roach's 1,045 minutes played so far this season rank as fourth-most in the NCAA this season. The sophomore has started every game for the Gauchos this season following a successful freshman campaign.
• One-bault, Two-bault, Three-bault
In the match against UMBC on Sept. 22, Thibault Candia scored the Gauchos' first hat trick since Luis Silva did the same on September 23, 2011 against San Diego. The first goal came early in the first half when Will Baynham played the ball forward for Candia in midfield, where he dribbled the ball into the left side of the 18-yard box, where his attempted cross into the middle took an immediate deflection off the foot of an opposing player and into the net. In the second half, he put away a penalty into the top left corner and brilliantly dribbled the ball from just past midfield to a few yards behind the top of the box, where he got a shot off with his right foot. For his efforts, he was awarded the Big West Co-Offensive Player of the Week award.
• Topping the Attendance Charts
Saturday night's match between the UCSB and Cal Poly was the highest attended match in NCAA soccer so far this season, with the final figure of 9,748 fans toppling the previous high of 5,942 (Notre Dame at Saint Louis, Aug. 31) by nearly 4,000. The Blue-Green rivalry regularly attracts the biggest crowds in college soccer, making up for 19 of the top 30 all-time highest-attended matchups. After seven home games this season, the Gauchos have enjoyed the support of a total of 21,915 fans. Their average of 3,131 fans per match is second only to Saint Louis, who has averaged 3,263 per game.
• Fun for the Whole Family
The UC Santa Barbara men's soccer program is debuting a revamped kids zone this season, featuring activities such as futsal, soccer golf, soccer tennis, and obstacle courses, at Harder Stadium prior to every men's soccer home match. The kids zone will be open to season ticket holders, from 6:30 p.m. up to 15 minutes before kickoff, and also at halftime. Fans are encouraged to arrive early as there is limited space for each game and the kids zone will fill up quickly. The play area will be open to children from the ages of 6 to 12. Event staff will be present to supervise the area, but parents/guardians will be required to sign a liability waiver on the first visit. The area will be located at the north end of Harder Stadium near the Gold Zone and Gaucho Fund hospitality area.
• Conference is Here
In conference play, the Gauchos' home matches against Sacramento State, UC Riverside, and UC Irvine offers a chance for revenge against a trio of opponents that UCSB only managed to pick up a single point from (2-2 OT draw at UC Irvine) last season. The final three games of the season see the Gauchos hit the road, culminating in the all-important second chapter of the Blue-Green Rivalry at the Alex G. Spanos Stadium in San Luis Obispo.
• Harder Heaven
Last season, UCSB finished 9-0-1 at home, good for its best home record since the 2002 Gauchos went 10-0-0. That came a year after the Gauchos went unbeaten in eight of their 10 home matches during the regular season (4-2-4). In the Vom Steeg era (since 1999), the Gauchos boast a hearty .731 winning percentage (147-46-26).
• Cream of the Crop
UCSB were picked to finish first in the Big West Preseason Coaches' Poll, receiving 53 points, tallied from the coaches' votes in which teams were ranked from 1-8 and assigned a corresponding point value, two points ahead of second-placed UC Irvine and eight ahead of CSUN. UCSB also received three first-place votes, whereas Irvine received two, and Cal State Fullerton, UC Riverside, and Cal Poly had one apiece.