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Gauchos Renew Rivalry With Bruins in NCAA Tournament First Round

Ramses Martinez celebrates with Finn Ballard McBride after Ballard McBride scored the fourth goal in UCSB's 4-0 victory over UC Irvine in the Big West Men's Soccer Championship Final on November 13, 2021. Ballard McBride was later awarded the Big West Championship MVP trophy. (Photo by Jeff Liang)
Ramses Martinez celebrates with Finn Ballard McBride after Ballard McBride scored the fourth goal in UCSB's 4-0 victory over UC Irvine in the Big West Men's Soccer Championship Final on November 13, 2021. Ballard McBride was later awarded the Big West Championship MVP trophy. (Photo by Jeff Liang)

The Schedule
2021 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament First Round
Thursday, November 18, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (12-4-4, 6-1-2 Big West (1st), 4-3-2 away) at UCLA (10-6-1, 5-4-1 Pac-12 (3rd), 8-3-0 home)
Wallis Annenberg Stadium – Los Angeles, Calif.
All-time record vs. the Bruins (W-L-T): 6-34-4 overall, 1-19-2 away
Record vs. the Bruins in the NCAA Tournament: 1-1-0
UCLA record in NCAA Tournament: 70-40-6
UCLA record in NCAA Tournament First Round: 14-6-1
UCSB record in NCAA Tournament: 21-11-2
UCSB record in NCAA Tournament First Round: 6-0-0
Last meeting in regular season: Sept. 22, 2021: at UCSB 3, UCLA 1
Last meeting in NCAA Tournament: Nov. 29, 2009 (Third Round): at UCLA 2, UCSB 1
WatchLive Stats | Listen (UCSB Feed)

• The Bracket

The first step in whittling down the field of 48 takes place Thursday with the first round of the 2021 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament kicking things off. The winner of the UCSB-UCLA matchup moves on to face seventh seed Duke in Durham, N.C. on Sunday at 10am Pacific/1pm Eastern. If the Gauchos were to advance past the Blue Devils, the potential opponent would be 10th-seeded Saint Louis, Maryland, or LIU. On the other side of the quadrant are second-seeded Washington, 15th-seeded Indiana, Portland, Seattle, Louisville, and Bowling Green.

• Last Time Out

UCSB decimated UC Irvine in the Big West Conference Championship Final, defeating the Anteaters, who went down a man with less than a minute to go before halftime, 4-0 at Harder Stadium behind goals from Ramses Martinez, Salvador Aguilar, Henry Davies, and Finn Ballard McBride. The Gauchos captured their second league tournament crown in program history, having previously won it in 2010. Finn Ballard McBride was named the Big West Championship MVP after scoring a goal and recording an assist in the final.

• Gauchos Vs. Bruins: The Story Continues

The history between UCSB and UCLA in college soccer is a long and storied one, with the first meeting having taken place in 1967, in what turned out to be a 3-1 win for the Bruins. On its face, the rivalry looks uncompetitive and one-sided – UCLA has taken 34 of the 44 meetings all-time – but to say that would be dismissive of the success that the Gauchos have had against the Bruins under Tim Vom Steeg in his 23 seasons at the helm. Vom Steeg is responsible for four of the six wins and three of the four draws for the Gauchos' historical record against the Bruins, including the program's first national championship in 2006. Recent years have seen UCSB defeat UCLA 2-0 in 2010, draw 1-1 in 2011, pick up its first-ever win at UCLA's Wallis Annenberg Stadium 4-2 in 2015, and emerge victorious 3-1 at Harder Stadium in 2018.

• UCSB in the NCAA Rankings

The Gauchos rank near the top in multiple team and individual stats. UCSB's +25 goal differential is 13th in the country, and the Gaucho attack is the ninth-best among Division I teams with 43 goals scored this year. Leroy Zeller leads all goalkeepers with 1,943 minutes and 15 seconds played in the 2021 campaign, and ranks fifth with nine shutouts, ninth with his .809 save percentage, and 15th with 76 saves. Finn Ballard McBride ranks 33rd in goals with nine and 34th in total points with 24.

• All-Conference Accolades

The Gauchos were all over the Big West 2021 Men's Soccer All-Conference announcement, claiming a total of 10 spots across the All-Big West First and Second Teams and the All-Freshman Team, with senior center back Henry Davies laying claim to the Defensive Player of the Year title.

Thaabit Baartman, Finn Ballard McBride, and Ameyawu Muntari fired their way onto the All-Conference First Team, combining for a total of 21 goals and 15 assists between the three of them, good for over half of the team's offensive output this season.

Davies and center back partner William Gillingham made the Gauchos a solid defensive unit, anchoring the backline to seven clean sheets in the regular season and another in the Big West Championship semifinal vs. UC Davis. The two have come up big on the other end as well – Davies' lone goal on the season was the game-winner at UC San Diego on Oct. 13, and two of Gillingham's goal involvements have resulted in the Gauchos earning a draw vs. Cal on Aug. 29 (goal) and at Oregon State on Sept. 21 (assist).

Davies' Defensive Player of the Year award marks the 11th time (2001, 2004-07, 2009-11, 2014, 2019) that a Gaucho has won the top defensive honor, the most in the Big West.

Freshman forward Salvador Aguilar earned a spot on the All-Big West Second Team and All-Freshman Team after scoring five goals in the regular season, four of which came in conference play. The San Simeon native scored three goals in four games from the league opener at Cal State Fullerton on Sept. 29 to the Oct. 9 home game against CSU Bakersfield.

Senior defensive midfielder Sam Fletcher was named to an all-conference list for the first time in his career, making the second team after making 12 starts in the regular season and playing a massive role in shutting out seven opponents. His experience and grit helped lead the Gauchos to results in several tough games, such as the 1-1 draw at Pac-12 winners Oregon State on Sept. 21 and the 0-0 draw at Cal Poly on Oct. 16.

The final Gaucho on the All-Big West Second Team was sophomore goalkeeper Leroy Zeller, a rock in goal for UCSB this season as he led the Big West Conference with 75 saves and seven shutouts in the regular season. He picked up his eighth on the year in UCSB's 1-0 win over UC Davis on Nov. 6. The German consistently made major saves in important points of matches, averaging 3.95 saves per contest prior to the postseason.

Freshman forward Ramses Martinez was selected to the Big West All-Freshman Team alongside Aguilar after starting in five games for UCSB in the regular season, including each of the last three games as he worked his way into becoming a key player in the buildup, and the Big West Championship semifinal vs. UC Davis on Nov. 6. The Montebello native had an assist in the Gauchos' 3-0 win over CSU Bakersfield on Oct. 9, the first of his career. He has also had a shot in three other games.

• Eye on the Record Book

The Gauchos of 2021 have already made their mark as one of the best groups in UCSB history, and several individuals have played their way into the UCSB record book. The team's 43 goals this season match the output from the 2005 and 1979 squads, tied for ninth-most in program history, and the 2.15 goals per match average would rank 10th-highest, beating out the 1974 team's mark.

UCSB's 10-game unbeaten run that began with a 1-1 draw at NCAA Tournament top seed Oregon State on Sept. 21 and was capped by a 3-2 win at home over UC Riverside on Oct. 23 ties for eighth-longest all-time, matching the run in 1968-69.

As things stand, Leroy Zeller's season matches Steve Tipping's 1982 in which he registered a 0.84 goals-against average, good for seventh on the list. The nine clean sheets compiled by Zeller tie for sixth-most in a single season.

Finn Ballard McBride is one to watch on the offensive side of things as, with current numbers extrapolated to a four-year career, the Australian is on pace to make the top-10 in career goals (seven away), points (16 away), and matches played (39 away).

• Muntari Named Big West Offensive Player of the Week for Second Time in 2021

Senior forward Ameyawu Muntari earned his second Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Week award of the 2021 season on Oct. 11. Muntari picked up the award after recording an assist in the Gauchos' 1-1 draw against UC Irvine on Oct. 6 and scoring the opening goal in UCSB's 3-0 win over CSU Bakersfield on Oct. 9.

• Aguilar Claims Big West Offensive Player, Freshman of the Week Honors

Freshman forward Salvador Aguilar earned his first career Big West Conference weekly honors, the Offensive Player and Freshman of the Week, after scoring a goal in each of UCSB's victories in the opening week of league play, the conference announced Oct. 4. Aguilar scored the first Gaucho goal in both of their games in the opening week of Big West Conference play, scoring a first time right-footed finish into the top right corner on Wednesday night at Cal State Fullerton, and tapping in a Nemo Philipp pass at UC Davis.

• Pacheco Becomes Second Gaucho to Pick Up Big West Weekly Honor in 2021

Freshman forward Rene Pacheco Big West Freshman Player of the Week honors after a goal and an assist in the Gauchos' pair of east coast games against Colgate and Cornell, the Big West Conference announced on Sept. 13. Pacheco scored the game-winning golden goal in double overtime at Colgate on Sept. 10, following up on a parried Henry Davies shot to give the Gauchos their third win of the season. In UCSB's 4-3 double overtime loss at Cornell on Sept. 12, Pacheco assisted on the third goal, finding sophomore attacker Finn Ballard McBride up the field with a long ball. The Santa Barbara native now has two goals and an assist on the year, with his previous goal coming in the season-opening 7-1 win against San Diego.

• Muntari Earns Pair of Awards in First Week of Play, Gillingham Named to Honorable Mention List
Senior forward Ameyawu Muntari was named the first Big West Offensive Player of the Week and UCSB Student-Athlete of the Week of the 2021 season on Aug. 30. Muntari scored scored back-to-back goals in the 66th and 73rd minutes of the Gauchos' season-opening contest against San Diego, first dancing around a USD defender in the penalty area before thumping it into the roof of the net on the right side of goal. His second goal came on a free kick that he fired into the top left corner.

Senior centerback William Gillingham was an Honorable Mention addition to the Top Drawer Soccer Week Two Team of the Week for his efforts in helping a defense that allowed just two goals in its opening two games and for scoring the equalizer in UCSB's 1-1 draw against Cal on Sunday night.

• Ballard McBride, Carson Vom Steeg Honored Among All-Big West Preseason Selections; Gauchos Share Top Spot in Coaches Poll
The UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team landed two players on the 2021 Big West Men's Soccer Preseason All-Conference Team and tied with UC Davis for first place in the league's preseason coaches poll.

Finn Ballard McBride – 2021 Men's Soccer Preseason All-Conference

Ballard McBride was UCSB's fourth-ever player to make it onto a freshman All-America list after Top Drawer Soccer listed him on its team at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. The Big West Conference recognized the newcomer as its freshman of the year, UCSB's ninth in the past 11 seasons, joining a long list that began with Michael David in 2009 and included Rodney Michael in 2017 and Ben Roach in 2018. The Australian tied for the Big West lead in goals with nine, seeing just under half of his 20 shots reach the back of the net. He ranked second in the conference with 20 points at the end of the season after tacking on two assists to his goal tally. Six of his nine goals came against Big West opponents, two of which were game-winners, and he also scored against then-No. 1 Stanford on Sept. 28.

Carson Vom Steeg – 2021 Men's Soccer Preseason All-Conference

In his UCSB career, Vom Steeg has played in 13 games, starting 11 and scoring one goal. The Santa Barbara, Calif. native sat out the 2019-20 season due to injury. This season, he will make the change from defensive midfielder to centerback for the blue and gold. Prior to UCSB, he was a member of Stanford's 2017 NCAA College Cup-winning squad.

In the preseason coaches poll, UC Santa Barbara finished in a tie atop the table with defending Big West Tournament champions UC Davis. Both teams finished on 89 points with three first-place votes.

• Caden Vom Steeg Recognized in Best XI
Freshman defender Caden Vom Steeg was recognized by US Youth Soccer as a member of the Best XI in the 18-and-under boys age group at the 2021 US Youth Soccer National Championships in Bradenton-Sarasota, Fla. The San Marcos HS product played at the club level for Santa Barbara Soccer Club.

• Top 100
Sophomore forward Finn Ballard McBride was ranked 93rd in the Top Drawer Soccer Preseason Top 100 Players list. In the midseason update, Ballard McBride jumped up to the 51st spot.

In the publication's freshman midseason ranking (Top Drawer Soccer does not publish freshman lists in preseason), Jared Vom Steeg was ranked 41st and Salvador Aguilar was ranked 90th.

• The Vom Steeg Files
Tim Vom Steeg is in his 23rd season of an illustrious career at the helm of the UCSB men's soccer program. After never having qualified for the NCAA Tournament prior to 2001, Vom Steeg has turned the Gauchos into contenders anually, taking UCSB to the dance 12 times since his hiring. He led the program to its first College Cup in 2004 and its first National Championship in 2006. He is a two-time NSCAA National Coach of the Year ('04, '06), and is tied for the most Big West Coach of the Year awards in league history with five, including the 2015 honor. He is the winningest coach in UCSB and Big West men's soccer history. Vom Steeg became UCSB's winngest coach in 2005, earned his 200th overall win in 2013, and triumphed for the 100th time in Big West action during the 2015 season. In 2018, UCSB's 3-1 win over UC Riverside was his 250th career win. His overall record currently stands at 285-128-56 (as of Nov. 17, 2021).

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