No. 12 Gauchos Look to Continue Unbeaten Run, Avenge 2018 Results Vs UC Riverside, UC Irvine

(Photo by Tony Mastres)
(Photo by Tony Mastres)
The Schedule
Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m
No. 12 UC Santa Barbara vs UC Riverside (5-6-2)
All-time record vs. the Highlanders (W-L-T): 26-6-2
Last meeting: Oct. 10, 2018: at UC Riverside 1, UCSB 0
Saturday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. (Senior Night, AYSO Banner Night)
No. 12 UC Santa Barbara vs UC Irvine (4-4-5)
All-time record vs. the Anteaters (W-L-T): 37-17-6
Last meeting: Oct. 13, 2018: UCSB 2, at UC Irvine 2 (2OT)
• UC Riverside Match is Gauchos Give Elementary School Night / UC Irvine Match is Senior Night/AYSO Banner Night
The match between the Gauchos and Highlanders on Wednesday night is a Gauchos Give night. Gauchos Give is a partnership with schools and organizations in the community to provide them the opportunity to experience UCSB events. Saturday night's match against the Anteaters is senior night as well as AYSO Banner night. There will be a pregame ceremony to honor the eight seniors that are part of this year's roster, and at halftime local AYSO clubs will take to Meredith Field to parade their team's banners. Players in AYSO jerseys will get in to the game free.
• Video Streams Available will offer a live video broadcast of both games this week 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.
• Revenge Tour 2.0
The Gauchos earned just one point from their conference matchups at UC Riverside and UC Irvine last season, and they will be having revenge on their mind on Wednesday and Saturday night. UC Riverside defeated the Gauchos on a controversial penalty decision, after which Daniel Aguirre tucked away the ensuing penalty kick for the win at UCR Soccer Stadium.
 That same weekend, UCSB had an eventful tilt at UC Irvine, in which a missed Santa Barbara penalty kick in the 9th minute came back to haunt them, as goals from Daniel Crisostomo and Ivan Canales put the Gauchos in a 2-0 hole. Then, Hunter Ashworth and Carson Vom Steeg each scored their first goals of the season as UCSB and UC Irvine shared the spoils on the night. The draw was just UCSB's second result on the road in eight games last season.
• Keep it Rolling
Several Gauchos are in good form heading into this week. The defense is fresh off recording its fifth and sixth clean sheets of the year, and Ben Roach has allowed just one goal in the past three matches. Rodney Michael has scored or assisted in each of the last seven games. Thibault Candia has done the same as Michael in five of the last seven and six of the last nine matches. Finn Ballard McBride has found the back of the net in each of the last three games and five of the last six. Will Baynham had his five-game point streak snapped against Sacramento State, but scored the first goal in the matchup at Fullerton and assisted the fourth.
• Scouting the Opposition: UC Riverside
UC Riverside heads into Wednesday night's match having snapped its six-game winless run with a 1-0 victory against Big West basement-dwellers Cal Poly. The Highlanders opened the season with a 5-1-0 start and were on the cusp of breaking into the top 25 in various polls, but since then the team has just put forth four goals in the past seven games. The defending Big West Tournament champions have spread the goals around, with leading goalscorers Roberto Garcia-Vargas and Hugo Magana Jr. each finding the back of the net three times this season. Preseason All-Big West selection Daniel Aguirre has missed parts of the season, only playing in eight contests thus far.
• Scouting the Opposition: UC Irvine
The defending Big West regular season champions carry a six-game unbeaten streak into Wednesday night's home matchup with UC Davis, but have drawn four of those matches. The Anteaters played an extremely difficult non-conference schedule, facing three top-10 teams in their first four games. Led by head coach Yossi Raz and his emphasis on playing possession-based soccer and building out of the back, Irvine is another squad that doesn't have a runaway top goalscorer or playmaker, instead seeing the points spread evenly across the roster.
• 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. Now in the rankings for their third-straight week, the Gauchos moved up seven spots to No. 12 in the Top Drawer Soccer rankings, and improved ten places in the College Soccer News Top 30 to No. 17. United Soccer Coaches (RV last week) and Soccer America (No. 24 last week) release their polls on Tuesday morning.
• Trophy Cabinet
Rodney Michael and Finn Ballard McBride's performances in the last week for UCSB have earned them the Big West Offensive and Freshman Player of the Week awards, respectively. Michael was voted as the offensive honoree for the third time in his career after recording a goal and an assist in each of the Gauchos' victories vs Sacramento State and at No. 22 Cal State Fullerton. Both of the Sierra Leone native's assists were on game-winning goals. Ballard McBride earns his fourth freshman of the week award in the past five weeks and third in a row after scoring the game-winning goal against the Hornets and putting UCSB's fourth goal on the board at Fullerton.
• A Steady Presence
Ben Roach's 1,225 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.
• One-Billingsley, Two-Billingsley, Three-Billingsley
Noah Billingsley became the first player in the Big West this season to record three assists in a game after assisting the second, third, and fourth goals in UCSB's 5-0 win at No. 22 Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 12. It was Santa Barbara's first triple-assist performance since Memo Arzate completed the feat in 2003 in his 18-assist campaign.
• 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 offer 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.

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