Big West Men's Soccer Wrap-Up
2016 Men's Soccer Final Release
The Big West takes a look back at the 2016 men's soccer season, highlighted by CSUN's return to the NCAA Tournament.
CSUN Ends Season In NCAA’s
CSUN culminated a successful season – Big West South Division champion and Big West Tournament champion – with its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance. The Matadors fell, 1-0, to Pacific at home in the first round to finish 9-7-5 overall.
NCAA Tournament History
The Matadors are now 1-6-1 all-time in seven NCAA Tournament appearances. CSUN, a No. 15 seed, defeated UC Santa Barbara, 3-2, at home in the 2005 second round for the program’s lone postseason victory. All six NCAA losses have been by one goal.
Big West Tournament Crown
The Matadors captured their second Big West Tournament title – and first since 2012 – thanks to some heroics in both games at Matador Soccer Field. In the semifinals, after battling Sacramento State to a scoreless draw through 90 minutes of regulation and two overtimes, the outcome came down to penalty kicks. Players from both squads made their initial five attempts. On the sixth Hornet attempt, CSUN goalkeeper Kevin Marquez made a diving save, and Matador counterpart Patrick Hickman connected on his try to send his team into the finals. CSUN upended two-time defending tournament champion Cal State Fullerton in the finals, winning 2-1 in double overtime, as Jeremy Degraffenreidt scored with 52 seconds remaining.
We The North
UC Santa Barbara continued its stranglehold on the Big West North Division, winning its fourth straight divisional title. The Gauchos tallied 21 points off of a 6-1-3 conference record. Since 2013, UCSB is 26-5-9 against Big West opponents.
In finishing 10-7-3 overall, UC Santa Barbara clinched its 16th straight season with 10 or more victories, all under the tutelage of head coach Tim Vom Steeg.
Head coach Terry Davila, in his 18th season at the helm of the Matador program, earned a conference record sixth Big West Coach of the Year honor after piloting the team to South Division and conference tournament titles.
DePuy Making History
The first individual in Big West history to earn three Offensive Player of the Year awards, UCSB senior forward Nick DePuy etched his name in the league record book. On the career list, he finished tied for No. 7 in goals (31), No. 3 in game-winning goals (16) and No. 4 in shots (223).
Heilmann Breaks Out In Final Season
Senior Alex Heilmann, who had never scored a goal in 16 career games with the Titans, moved from defender to forward for the 2016 season, and the change paid off for Cal State Fullerton head coach George Kuntz. Heilmann ended up leading the Big West with 12 goals, tying him for eighth all-time in the Titan single-season record book.
Hornets Host And Win First Tourney Game
Sacramento State, which posted its first above .500 season (9-8-3) since joining the Big West as an associate member in 2012, experienced a couple of additional firsts this season. The Hornets hosted their first Big West Tournament game, and notched their first tourney victory, toppling UC Riverside by a 2-1 score.
The three winningest head coaches in Big West history are still going strong, leading their respective programs at UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton and CSUN. Tim Vom Steeg, in his 18th season at UCSB, became the first head coach in Big West history to accumulate 200 overall wins and 100 conference wins. Since 2001, when the Big West reinstated men’s soccer, Vom Steeg is 221-88-40, with a 110-31-21 mark in league contests. George Kuntz has accumulated a combined 174 wins between two Big West institutions in UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton – the No. 2 win total all-time. His 75 Big West victories is third behind Vom Steeg and CSUN boss Terry Davila, who is 79-54-29 in his 15 seasons as a Big West mentor. Davila is No. 3 all-time in overall wins with 161 behind Vom Steeg and Kuntz.
SIX BIG WEST PLAYERS NAMED NSCAA ALL-FAR WEST REGION
The Big West placed six men’s soccer players on the National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-Far West Region team.
Two players each from CSUN and UC Santa Barbara, as well as one apiece from Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside made the list.
The Far West Region is comprised of schools from the Big West, Pac-12 and West Coast conferences.
A trio of players were tabbed on the all-region second team: UC Santa Barbara senior Nick DePuy, CSUN senior Patrick Hickman, and UC Riverside senior Romario Lomeli.
Named to his third all-region team during an illustrious career at UCSB, DePuy culminated his final year in a Gaucho uniform as the first individual in conference history to be named Big West Offensive Player of the Year three times. He scored six goals with two assists for 14 points. On the Big West leaderboard, he tied for No. 7 in goals and No. 10 in points. Drawing dense coverage throughout the season from opponents, he still managed to lead the conference with 63 shots. In the Big West record book, he finished tied for No. 7 in goals (31), No. 3 in game-winning goals (16) and No. 4 in shots (223). A native of Irvine, Calif., DePuy earned first team all-region accolades and 2015 and third team recognition in 2014.
For the fifth straight year, a CSUN player captured NSCAA All-Far West Region second team honors when Hickman made the squad. The 2016 Big West Defensive Player of the Year, Hickman helped the Matadors return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. Hickman anchored a defense that registered a conference-low 1.11 goals against average over 21 games, as CSUN went on to claim the Big West South Division and Tournament titles. Hickman also got involved offensively, tying for second on the team with seven points on three goals and an assist.
Lomeli became UC Riverside’s first all-region honoree to be ranked as high as second team since Jose Diaz in 2012. The Panorama City, Calif. native led the Big West with nine assists. He also tied for No. 7 in goals (6), and was third in points (21). He concluded his Highlander career as the school’s all-time assist leader with 20.
The three players to make the all-region third team were UC Santa Barbara junior Kevin Feucht, Cal State Fullerton senior Alex Heilmann and CSUN senior Juan Fernando Samayoa.
Feucht, who made the second team in 2015, collected Big West Midfielder of the Year honors this season as he ranked No. 2 on the conference leaderboard in goals (11) and points (24). He notched three game-winning goals.
Heilmann led the Big West with 12 goals, while Samayoa was fourth in points with 18.
KUNTZ RESTORING TITAN STANDARDS
George Kuntz came over from Orange County rival school UC Irvine to restore the Cal State Fullerton program back to national prominence. The Titans recorded 10 consecutive double-digit win seasons from 1991-2000 under former head coach Al Mistri. The program then went the next 13 seasons without 10 wins, topping out with nine in 2001. Enter Kuntz, who has guided CSF to 10 or more wins in each of his first three years at the helm. The Titans were 10-9-4 in 2016, on the heels of 10 wins in 2014 and 13 in 2015. They reached the Big West Tournament title game for the third straight year, and nearly pulled off the three-peat, narrowly losing to CSUN in double overtime for the championship. The 33 victories represent the most for the Titan program over a three-year period since Mistri’s 1998-2000 clubs won 43 games.