UC Santa Barbara Named Favorite in 2010 Big West Men's Soccer Chase
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The 2010 Big West men's soccer preseason poll has a familiar face at the top as UC Santa Barbara was named the favorite in a vote of the league's seven head coaches.
UCSB claimed the top position after collecting 48 points, which included six first place votes. 2010 has the potential to be an exciting season in Santa Barbara as the Gauchos return nine starters from a group that won the Big West regular season championship, advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament and went 17-5-2 overall. The returnees are headlined by 2009 Big West Goalkeeper of the Year Sam Hayden and 2009 Big West Midfielder of the Year Danny Barrera. Hayden solved UCSB's goalkeeping question last year with an emphatic debut season after transferring from JC power Yavapai College. He set the Big West single season record for shutouts (16) and recorded the seventh-best single-season goals against average in league history (0.74). Barrera, who was named a second team preseason All-America by College Soccer News, is the leading returning point scorer for UC Santa Barbara. The junior tied for the league league lead with nine assists and added five goals for 19 points a year ago. Those two players lead a contingent that includes All-Big West players Luis Silva (4 g, 5a), Michael Boxall (1 g, 2 a), Michael Nonni (6 g, 6 a), Michael Tetteh (1 g, 5 a) and the 2009 Big West Freshman of the Year Machael David (1 g, 4 a). The clubs' depth and experience is gaining national acclaim as the Gauchos are ranked #6 in the College Soccer News preseason ledger and #8 in the NSCAA preseason poll. In addition, UC Santa Barbara has a chance to play in the College Cup in front of its own fans as the showcase event is being hosted by the university at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium.
UC Irvine finished second in the poll after amassing 43 points and the remaining first place vote. UCI had another strong season a year ago, going 15-7-0, winning the Big West Tournament championship for the second consecutive season and claiming the #16 seed in the NCAA Tournament. In all, UCI is 30-9-6 over the past two seasons and is the lone West Coast squad to receive a national seed in the NCAAs each of the past two years. The Anteaters lost some key personnel but return plenty of players capable of leading the club to another banner campaign. The spectacular offensive duo of Amani Walker (9 g, 3 a) and 2010 MAC Hermann Trophy candidate Spencer Thompson (7 g, 4 a) return as well as a solid goalkeeper in Andrew Fontein (0.88 gaa, 4 so, 35 sv). With players such as Jorge Reyes (0 g , 2 a) ready to take on a larger offensive roles, the return of stellar defenders Corey Attaway and Gray Bailey and a deep recruiting class ready to plug in the gaps of the departed stars, the ‘Eaters are in line for another strong season.
Cal Poly finished third in the poll with 28 points, narrowly edging fourth place Cal State Northridge. The Mustangs had an up and down season a year ago, going 2-7-1 in non-conference games, yet posting a 6-3-1 mark against Big West foes. The club finished second in the conference, but lost a tough double-overtime match to eventual champion UC Irvine in the Big West Tournament. Cal Poly will look to return to the form of 2007-08 in which it posted back-to-back 11-win seasons and claimed an NCAA berth following the '08 campaign. The club returns six starters including offensive dynamo David Zamora (7 g, 3 a) and defensive stalwart Patrick Sigler (2 g, 2 a). Zamora’s 21 career scores leave him just four away from cracking into the Big West top 10 list, while Sigler is a dynamic two-way star who can shut down opponents and join in the counterattack. Coach Paul Holocher can also count on a top-flight goalkeeper in Patrick McLain (1.06 goals, 5 so, 73 sv) as well as continued offensive prowess from Junior Burgos (4 g, 1 a) and Chris Gaschen (2 g, 4 a). After fielding one of the youngest rosters in the league a year ago, Cal Poly's increased experience has it looking for its first Big West title and a return among the elite both regionally and nationally.
CSUN wrapped up the top four in the preseason poll with 27 points, followed by Cal State Fullerton in fifth with 22 tallies. UC Davis (17) and UC Riverside (11) completed the 2010 preseason poll in sixth and seventh, respectively.
Men's Soccer Coaches Poll Results
No. School Pts.
1. UC Santa Barbara (6) - 48
2. UC Irvine (1) - 43
3. Cal Poly - 28
4. Cal State Northridge - 27
5. Cal State Fullerton - 22
6. UC Davis - 17
7. UC Riverside - 11
() First-place votes