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Men's Soccer

Usual Suspects At The Top As Midway Point Hits For Men's Soccer

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Halfway through the Big West schedule and two familiar names have their usual spots at the top. UC Santa Barbara leads the way with 12 points (4-1-0), while UC Irvine is right behind the Gauchos with 10 points (3-0-1), but have played one less game. It is a muddled picture after those two as Cal State Fullerton (3-2-0) and UC Davis (3-2-0) each have nine points, while Cal Poly has five points (1-2-2). Exactly a month stands between now and the four-team Big West Tournament so the stretch run promises to be full of pressure packed contests.


UCSB's Impressive And Tiring Week
UC Santa Barbara had one of the more impressive weeks in recent memory as the Gauchos went 3-0-0 against three high quality opponents. First UCSB played its Central Coast rival Cal Poly Tuesday, a 2-1 Gaucho home win in front of 6,057. Friday, UC Santa Barbara hit the pitch against #11 Duke in a primetime televised contest on Fox Soccer Channel. UCSB took a 2-0 victory in that match, a competition witnessed by 11,242. Finally to top off the week, UC Santa Barbara had to head to the Inland Empire to take on a much improved UC Riverside club. That back and forth affair ended with the Gauchos taking a 4-3 victory to complete their perfect week.

Close But...
UC Riverside sits at 0-5-0 in conference play, but the Highlanders could easily have at least four wins or draws at this juncture. Junior Gonzalez' side has lost four consecutive one-goal contests, two of which have been in extra time. Going back further, 10 of UCR's 13 matches have been decided by one goal or less and five of those 13 have gone to overtime.

They Figured It Out
Like UC Riverside, UC Davis has played in a bunch of one goal games (11 of 13), but lately the Aggies have figured out how to win them. UCD's current three-game win streak has featured three one-goal games that have ended in its favor. It’s been especially difficult as two of the games have gone to overtime including a double-overtime contest. Previous to those three outings, UCD was just 2-6-0 in one-goal matches.

UCSB Sets NCAA Attendence Mark
Attendence records and UC Santa Barbara have gone hand in hand in recent years and the school added another to the NCAA annals last week. The 11,242 that showed up for the match last Friday against Duke was the fourth crowd of 6,000 or more this season, establishing a new NCAA standard. UCSB has two more regular season home games remaining as well as possible Big West and NCAA home matches so there could be opportunity to extend that mark.

They Weren’t the #1 Keepers, But They Play Like It
The Big West has shown off an impressive array of goalkeeping talent not only among the first units, but also the backups.

At Cal Poly, Brett Finkelstein has played in four matches, all starts, and recorded a 1.65 goals against average, 23 saves and one shutout in place of injured first stringer Patrick McLain. Finkelstein even won Big West Defensive Player of the Week honors on October 4.

UC Davis has seen true freshman Omar Zeenni in goal and he has been spectacular. Zeenni is 3-1 with a 0.54 goals against average, 13 saves, an .812 save percentage and three shutouts in seven matches with four starts. He has spearheaded an Aggie turnaround which has the club in fourth in the Big West after a three-game win streak.

UC Santa Barbara needed highly touted recruit Eric Reyes for three matches and the true freshman responded in fine fashion. Reyes won all three matches after recording an 0.64 goals against average, a shutout and allowing only two goals in 282 minutes of play.

Cal Poly's Rising Star
With some of their talent struggling to put the ball in the back of the net, Cal Poly has found a new offensive star in Tim White. White has scored three goals and added an assist for seven points. He leads the club in goals and points and has easily surpassed his 2009 output of one goal in 18 matches.

Don't Forget About This One
A lot of the press may go to the Central Coast rivalry, but the bout between UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge is on the same level. The two clubs have combined for eight of the last nine Big West regular season titles, with one of the two teams winning the crown every year from 2001-07. The heated rivalry has even extended into the postseason an NCAA second round match in 2005 and a Big West Tournament semifinal a year ago. The lone regular season meeting between the two is Saturday, marking the first time since 2000 that there is only one regular season meeting between the two. It has also been a tight series as the Gauchos own a 17-14-5 edge.

UCI Reaches Shutout Standard
UC Irvine’s 10th shutout of the season last Saturday moved them into a tie for 10th on the Big West single season team list. It also tied the single-season school record which was set back in 2001.Individually, junior goalkeeper Andrew Fontein has been a part of all 10 of those shutouts, tying him for eighth on the single-season Big West ledger.

UCSB's Hayden Chosen As Finalist for Lowe's Award
Ten NCAA men's soccer student-athletes who excel both on and off the field were selected as finalists for the 2010 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award and included in the elite group is UCSB senior goalkeeper Sam Hayden. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition.

Hayden, the Gauchos' starting goalkeeper, is in his second year at UCSB after transferring from Yavapai College. He was named the 2009 Big West Goalkeeper of the Year, First Team All-Big West, Second Team All-Far West Region and the LA Soccer News Men's Player of the Year after recording a school and conference record 16 shutouts last season. Hayden has also volunteered his time to give back to the local soccer community, helping organize the Santa Barbara Soccer Camps and the Santa Barbara Fiesta Tournament. Along with the rest of his teammates and the UCSB women's soccer team, he helped run AYSO practice sessions during the month of September.

College Cup The Goal

The College Cup is the goal for each DI men's soccer program, but this season the showcase event has a Big West feel. For the first time since 2006, the College Cup will be held at an on-campus venue as UC Santa Barbara hosts the showcase at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium December 10-12. The 17,000-seat venue will have an improved look as a new field, pressbox and plaza are among the many improvements geared at preparing the stadium for the College Cup.

UCI's Thompson Named to MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List
UC Irvine’s Spencer Thompson will have even more attention thrust on his shoulders this season as the senior was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, the preseason ledger of the highest individual award in intercollegiate soccer. The native of Ahwatukee, Ariz., is one of 39 players on the initial list and the lone player from a Big West school. Thompson was named to the list following a 2009 season in which he recorded 18 points (7 g, 4 a) and was named first team All-Big West and first team All-Far West region. The recipients of the MAC Hermann Trophy are selected by NCAA Division I coaches who are members of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). Voting for the MAC Hermann Trophy is conducted in late November, when a field of 15 semifinalists is reduced to three finalists. Those three will be invited to the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis on Friday, Jan. 7, 2011, where a news conference will be held to announce the winner, followed by a banquet to honor the three finalists.