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Men's Soccer

Big West Men's Soccer Tournament Title Up For Grabs

Files associated with this release:
Mens Soccer Release No. 12

Links associated with this release:
2011 Big West Men's Soccer Tournament Central


The fourth annual Big West Men's Soccer Tournament takes center stage this week as top seed UC Irvine hosts No. 4 seed UC Riverside, while No. 3 seed UC Davis travels to No. 2 seed UC Santa Barbara for Wednesday's semifinals.  The two winners meet on Saturday for the championship at the site of the highest remaining seed.



Sam Garza, UC Santa Barbara
Much praise has been heaped – and deservedly so – on UC Santa Barbara midfielder Luis Silva and his 15 goals this season.  Silva is the core reason that the Gauchos rank second nationally with 43 goals scored.  But don’t forget about junior forward Sam Garza.  He scored his seventh goal of the year, and third game-winner, to lead UCSB to a 2-0 victory against rival Cal Poly in front of a nationally televised Fox Soccer Channel audience on Friday.  It marked his fifth goal in the last eight games.  The offensive charge is a welcome sight after the 2010 Big West Co-Offensive Player of the Year had scored just two goals through the first 11 matches.  In fact, Garza has recorded either a goal or an assist in seven of the last eight contests. 


Big West Tournament On Tap
The fourth annual Big West Men’s Soccer Tournament is the focus of this week’s action with two semifinal games taking place on Wednesday.  Top-seeded UC Irvine hosts No. 4 seed UC Riverside while No. 2 seed UC Santa Barbara entertains third-seeded UC Davis.  Both matches kickoff at 7:00 p.m.  The highest remaining seed will serve as host for the championship match on Saturday.  The tournament champion earns the Big West automatic bid to the 2011 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship, which begins on Thursday, Nov. 17.

Big West Tournament Preview
The 2011 conference tournament field features a familiar feel and a new invitee to the party when the action begins on Wednesday.

No. 2 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 3 UC Davis
UC Santa Barbara is playing the role of semifinal host for the fourth straight season and enters the tournament as the No. 2 seed for the third time.  The Gauchos are 3-2-1 all-time in the Big West Tournament and look to defend their 2010 title.  They have gotten hot at the right time, winning four straight and seven of their last nine contests.    The late run boosted UCSB from sixth place to second and secured the host spot.  In that nine game stretch, UCSB has scored 26 goals with eight multi-goal efforts to boot.  UCSB won both regular season meetings against UC Davis – a 2-1 overtime road triumph on Oct. 8 followed by a 3-1 home victory on Oct. 26.

The Aggies return to the tournament after making their first appearance in the inaugural 2008 field.  UCD had an opportunity to either win outright or earn a share of the regular season title, needing a pair of wins during the final week, but settled for 1-1 ties against Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside that dropped the team into third place.  Sixteen of UCD’s 18 games have resulted in a tie or been decided by one goal.  The Aggies also have played in 11 overtime games, which ties the NCAA Division I record for most OT games in a season.  St. Louis (2003) and San Diego State (2009) also accomplished the feat.

No. 1 UC Irvine vs. No. 4 UC Riverside
UC Irvine joins UC Santa Barbara as the only two programs to have participated in four straight Big West Tournaments.  The Anteaters have landed the No. 1 seed for the third time.  They suffered a bitter 2-1 loss at home to fourth-seeded Cal State Fullerton in 2010 that ultimately derailed their hopes for an NCAA Tournament berth.  Ranked in the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) top 10 this season, the Anteaters are in line for postseason play but a favorable outcome in the Big West Tournament improves their seeding status.  UCI is 4-1-0 all-time in the Big West Tournament.  The Anteaters captured their third conference regular season championship in the last four years, finishing league play with 19 points and a 6-3-1 record.  Only the 2008 UCI squad won the Big West regular season title with fewer victories (5-1-4 - 19 points).  It’s a testament to the level of competition in the Big West, which has been ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 among conferences all season.

UC Riverside is making its first Big West Tournament appearance and enters the semifinal showdown with UCI unbeaten in its last six matches (3-0-3).  The Highlanders have three wins against ranked opponents this season, and those have all come against Big West powers UCI and UCSB.  They defeated then-No. 7 UCSB 3-1 in front of a school record crowd on Sept. 28, then did it again on Gaucho turf, a 3-2 triumph on Oct. 22.  UCSB was rated No. 15 at the time of that match.  The Highlanders then edged No. 9 UCI 3-2 a little over a week ago at Anteater Stadium, avenging a lopsided 5-1 loss to the same club at home on Oct. 12.  UCR has won a school Division I record nine games. 

NCAA Ratings Percentage Index Favors Big West
The latest release of the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) on Tuesday revealed that five Big West programs are ranked in the top 50.  The Big West is one of only four conferences with that distinction.  Two programs – UC Irvine (8) and UC Santa Barbara (10) – are ranked in the top 10.  UC Riverside has an RPI of 34, while Cal State Northridge (45) and UC Davis (49) also are high on the list.

as of Nov. 8
Conference Teams
Big East 9
Conference USA 5
Big 10 4
Colonial 4
Silva In Big West Top 10 For Assists and Points
UC Santa Barbara senior Luis Silva leads the Big West in goals (15) and points (38), and is tied for the league lead with eight assists in what makes him a leading candidate for Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2011.  Silva’s two goals last week upped his career totals to 26 goals and 21 assists for 73 points.  The 73 points ties him with UC Irvine’s Brad Evans (2003-06) for eighth place on the Big West career charts.  In addition, Silva is tied for ninth all-time with Cal State Northridge’s Sunghyun Kim (2006-09) with his 21 assists.

UCSB Leads Nation In Attendance Once Again
UC Santa Barbara is the nation’s attendance leader for the fifth year in a row, drawing an average of 5,375 fans per game into Meredith Field at Harder Stadium.  The Gauchos broke the record for the largest crowd to attend a Big West Conference match last week when 13,822 fans filed in to witness UCSB and Cal Poly.  UCSB played in front of 13,772 fans earlier this season against San Diego, and a Harder Stadium record crowd of 15,896 watched the Gauchos play UCLA last season.  UCSB owns the three highest attended on-campus games in NCAA history.