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Men's Soccer

No. 5 UC Santa Barbara Heads East to Akron Tournament


2016 Men's Soccer Release No. 3

Off to its best start since 2011 and ranked in the top-10 in all three major polls, UC Santa Barbara (4-0) faces No. 19 Butler and No. 10 Akron this week.


UC Santa Barbara Moves Up Again In Polls
Two victories at home against San Diego and Saint Mary’s vaulted UC Santa Barbara up the polls for the second straight week.  The Gauchos appear at No. 5 nationally in the latest Soccer America poll, and sit at No. 7 in both the NSCAA and Top Drawer Soccer polls.  The No. 7 NSCAA ranking is the highest for the UCSB program since checking in at No. 4 on Oct. 2, 2012.

Big Week Ahead
UCSB’s national ranking is getting put to the test with two top-20 opponents on tap this week.  The Gauchos face No. 19 Butler and No. 10 Akron at the University of Akron Tournament.  UCSB already sports a win over then-No. 18 Ohio State on the opening weekend of the 2016 season. 

• Other ranked opponents on this week’s schedule include UC Riverside traveling to No. 11 Denver, and CSUN visiting No. 9 UCLA.  Cal State Fullerton meets Memphis and UTRGV in the Courtyard Marriott San Diego Central Tournament.

Tip O’ The Hat Trick
Cal State Fullerton senior Alex Heilmann, who had not scored a goal in 16 previous career games entering the 2016 season,  is the Big West leader after two weeks of play with four goals.  The defender netted a hat trick to lead the Titans to a 3-1 victory at UNLV last week.

• The hat trick was the first in 2016 by a Big West player, and the first by a Titan since Ian Ramos did so against CSUN on Oct. 17, 2012.

Undefeated Start
The only remaining undefeated Big West team, UC Santa Barbara is off a 4-0 start.  It’s the first 4-0 start for the program since 2011.  The Gauchos have not won five or six straight to start a season since the 2004 national runner-up squad began that year 8-0.

DePuy’s Impact
Senior Nick DePuy, the UCSB All-American forward and a member of the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, scored his first two goals of the 2016 campaign – one each in the wins of San Diego and Saint Mary’s.  UCSB is 18-0-4 all-time when DePuy finds the back of the net.

Accurate Barometer
The formula for success at CSUN is pretty simple.  Score two or more goals...and win.  The Matadors have won 20 straight games, dating back to the 2013 season, when they have tallied multiple scores.  The most recent case was on Sunday, a 2-1 double overtime triumph over Air Force. 

• The last time the Matadors scored two or more goals and didn’t win was on Sept. 22, 2013, a 4-2 home loss to No. 11 UCLA.

Lomeli Zeroes In On Record
UC Riverside senior Romario Lomeli collected his second assist of the season in Friday’s 1-0 win against Santa Clara, giving him 13 for his career.  That puts him one away from tying Otis Earle’s (2011-14) program record of 14.


NCAA Tournament Opponents On Tap
Big West squads are taking on a challenging 2016 men’s soccer non-conference schedule, playing a total of 20 contests versus 13 different opponents which participated in last year’s 48-team NCAA Tournament field.

UC Santa Barbara is battling a conference-high four postseason opponents from the 2015 tourney, including Final Four participant Akron.  The Gauchos also host UCLA, and meet Oakland and Ohio State opening weekend.  Cal Poly opens the season with a visit to North Carolina and Wake Forest, teams that advanced to the Quarterfinals and Round of 16, respectively.  All eight Big West squads play at least one opponent that appeared in the NCAA Tournament field last year.

Here is a list of opponents which played in last year’s NCAA Tournament.

CAL POLY        
North Carolina       
Wake Forest       
Santa Clara      
Utah Valley   

Utah Valley

Utah Valley

Notre Dame
Santa Clara

Santa Clara 

Ohio State

Preseason Posturing
The Big West has regularly received its share of national recognition, including in the selection of preseason polls.  At least one conference school has appeared in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America preseason top 25 in 13 of the last 14 seasons.

Year School Ranking Year School  Ranking
2003 UC Santa Barbara No. 21 2011 UC Santa Barbara No. 14
2004 UC Santa Barbara No. 15   UC Irvine No. 24
2005 UC Santa Barbara No. 4 2012 UC Santa Barbara No. 11
2006 CSUN No. 19   UC Irvine No. 13
  UC Santa Barbara No. 22 2013 UC Santa Barbara RV
2007 UC Santa Barbara  No. 1    CSUN RV
2008 UC Santa Barbara  No. 21 2014 UC Irvine No. 16
2009 UC Irvine No. 15     UC Santa Barbara No. 18
  UC Santa Barbara No. 16   CSUN No. 24
  Cal Poly No. 23 2015 UC Irvine No. 20
  UC Davis RV 2016 UC Santa Barbara No. 13
2010 UC Santa Barbara No. 8   Cal Poly RV
  UC Irvine  No. 25      
RV - Receiving Votes

Nick DePuy is the eighth Gaucho since 2005 to be named to the Preseason Watch List for the MAC Hermann Trophy Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate men’s soccer player.  One of 28 players on this year’s list, and only one of four who reached the semifinal round in 2015, DePuy led the Big West in goals (15), game-winning goals (8), points (31) and shots (80).  His eight game-winners topped the nation.  His 14 career game-winning strikes is No. 3 all-time in Big West history.  DePuy is bidding to become the first three-time recipient of Big West Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Here is a list of Big West players who have appeared on the MAC Hermann Trophy Preseason Watch List since 2005.

2016 – Nick DePuy, UC Santa Barbara      
2015 – Chase Minter, Cal Poly   
2014 – Sagi Lev-Ari, CSUN       
            Ismaila Jome, UC Santa Barbara    
2013 – Mackenzie Pridham, Cal Poly
2012 –  None                         
2011 – Sam Garza, UC Santa Barbara   
2010 – Spencer Thompson, UC Irvine
2009 – Patrick Sigler, Cal Poly
2008 – Chris Pontius, UC Santa Barbara
2007 – Andy Iro, UC Santa Barbara
            Eric Avila, UC Santa Barbara
2006 – Andy Iro, UC Santa Barbara
2005 – Tyler Rosenlund, UC Santa Barbara
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 215-81-37, with a 104-30-18 mark in league contests.  George Kuntz has accumulated a combined 165 wins between two Big West institutions in UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton – the No. 2 win total all-time.  His 71 Big West victories is third behind Vom Steeg and CSUN boss Terry Davila, who is 74-52-26 in his 15 seasons as a Big West mentor.  Davila is No. 3 all-time in overall wins with 154 behind Vom Steeg and Kuntz.