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Men's Soccer

UC Irvine Faces Ranked Foe, Blue-Green Rivalry Is Back


2018 Men's Soccer Release No. 6

UC Irvine seeks a big win on the road at No. 10 Saint Mary's, while Spanos Stadium welcomes Blue-Green rivals Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara.


The 2018-19 season marks the 50th anniversary for men’s sports in the Big West Conference, and the 35th for women’s.  All season long the Big West will celebrate the history of all 18 conference-sponsored sports.

• The recipient of the most Big West Coach of the Year awards is CSUN’s Terry Davila with six.  Davila earned the honor most recently in 2016 after leading the Matadors to a South Division title.  Davila also captured the accolade in 2002, 2003, 2005 (co), 2009 and 2012.  He has led the Matadors a share of or an outright Big West regular season title five times since 2001.

• Former UC Irvine goalkeeper Andrew Fontein (2008-11) is the all-time Big West record holder for most career Player of the Week awards – seven.  He earned three in one season twice – 2010 and 2011.


Non-Conference Play Winds Down
Big West squads play one more week’s worth of games against non-conference competition before the league slate begins on Oct. 3.  Seven games dot the ledger this week – five of which are against opponents from the West Coast Conference.  UC Irvine seeks to take down undefeated and No. 10-ranked Saint Mary’s in the marquee match.

The Big West is 30-28-12 overall against non-conference foes.  Five schools own records of .500 or better, led by UC Davis (6-1-2) with a .778 winning percentage.  UC Irvine (6-3-1), UC Santa Barbara (5-3-0), CSUN (6-4-0) and Cal State Fullerton (2-2-5) also made that list.  All five are ranked in the top 100 of the NCAA’s initial Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) rankings release, led by the Gauchos (30) and Aggies (31).

UC Davis Remains Ranked
UC Davis fell from the ranks of the unbeaten but remained ranked in the United Soccer Coaches poll for the fourth straight week.  The Aggies lost a 1-0 battle against then-No. 17 Saint Mary’s last week to snap the program’s 13-match unbeaten streak dating back to last season.  UC Davis dropped four spots from No. 13 to No. 17 in the United Soccer Coaches poll.  The Aggies host Causeway rival Sacramento State on Saturday in a designated non-conference contest.  The two schools meet again on Oct. 27 in a match that will count toward the Big West standings.

Blue-Green Rivalry Resumes 
One of the nation’s most prominent rivalries will be renewed this Saturday at Alex G. Spanos Stadium when UC Santa Barbara visits Cal Poly.  The annual home-and-home series is always a popular daw on the Central Coast, with the last 14 meetings drawing in excess of 10,000 fans at either Spanos or Harder Stadium.  The last seven Mustang and Gaucho showdowns at Spanos have resulted in sellouts (11,075).  Saturday’s game is designated as non-conference.  The Oct. 27 rematch in Santa Barbara will count toward the league standings.

Last One Standing
UC Santa Barbara is the lone remaining Big West team to boast an undefeated home record (4-0) this season.  The Gauchos host Gonzaga on Tuesday looking to extend that streak.

Fit To Be Tied
Cal State Fullerton is 2-2-5 overall – the five ties the most the program has recorded as a Big West member since the 2014 squad (6).  Six of its nine games have gone to overtime.


Taieb Selected To MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List
UC Santa Barbara junior defender Faouzi Taieb earned a spot on the 2018 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, it was announced by United Soccer Coaches and the Missouri Athletic Club.

Taieb is one of 32 student-athletes on the radar for the nation’s most prestigious award which honors the nation’s top player.  He is the eighth Gaucho all-time to crack that list, joining Tyler Rosenlund (2005), Andy Iro (2006, 2007), Eric Avila (2007), Chris Pontius (2008), Sam Garza (2011) and Ismaila Jome (2014).

He is the 13th Big West player to be considered for the MAC Hermann Trophy since 2005.

Taieb, a native of Marseille, France, is a key addition on the Gaucho backline.  A transfer from St. Francis Brooklyn, Taieb earned ECAC and NEC Defensive Player of the Year honors after anchoring a defense that allowed just two goals during conference play.  He also was named to the All-Northeast Region First Team as a sophomore, and as NEC Rookie of the Year as a freshman.

The MAC Hermann Trophy, presented by World Wide Technology, will be announced on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis.  Fifteen semifinalists will be named near the end of the college season based on voting by NCAA Division I coaches and from those candidates, three finalists will be placed on the ballot for the coveted award.
Through The Years
Here is a list of Big West players who have appeared on the MAC Hermann Trophy Preseason Watch List since 2005.

2018 – Faouzi Taieb, UC Santa Barbara   
2017 – None           
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

Shaffer Earns Career Win No. 100 As Big West Head Coach
Dwayne Shaffer, in his 22nd year as the head coach at UC Davis, reached a huge milestone on Sept. 2.  He won his 100th game as a head coach in the Big West, following a 5-1 victory over CSU Bakersfield.  In 11 seasons coaching at the Division I level, Shaffer has compiled a 103-89-39 record.  Shaffer became just the seventh individual in history to win 100 games as a coach in the Big West.  Tim Vom Steeg (227, UC Santa Barbara), George Kuntz (184, UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton), Terry Davila (171, CSUN), Jose Elgorriaga (126, Fresno State), Al Mistri (119, Cal State Fullerton) and Barry Barto (116, UNLV) are the others to accomplish the feat.  Vom Steeg, Kuntz and Davila are still leading their respective programs.

Linenberger Nears Coaching Milestone

Sacramento State head coach Michael Linenberger enters his 30th season seeking a landmark 200th career victory.  He has accumulated a record of 199-291-63 as a head coach, including a mark of 42-62-18 during a six-plus year period in the Big West.  Linenberger has guided the Hornets to the Big West Tournament in each of the last two seasons.

Vom Steeg Collects 250th Career Victory
UC Santa Barbara’s 2-0 start to the season also resulted in head coach Tim Vom Steeg picking up his 250th career victory.    Vom Steeg hit the landmark number when the Gauchos defeated UC Riverside, 3-1, on Aug. 26.  The 20th-year bench boss is now 253-116-46 all-time.  He has 232 of his wins while coaching in the Big West.

Titanic Streak
Cal State Fullerton has recorded 10 or more wins in four straight seasons, the longest current streak among Big West programs.  The Titans won more games (43) than any other conference school in that four-year span, coinciding with the arrival of head coach George Kuntz in 2015.

Big First Impressions
Two of the nine Big West players who earned recognition on the United Soccer Coaches All-Far West Region Teams in 2017 included Nabi Kibunguchy of UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara’s Rodney Michael.  They represented the first two Big West freshmen to earn all-region accolades since UCSB’s Ismaila Jome in 2013.

Cal State Fullerton senior Ross McPhie has accounted for seven career game-winning goals, the most among any current Big West player.  He needs two more to tie former Titan Hector Orellana (2001-03) for eighth all-time in conference history.  The 2017 Big West Co-Midfielder of the Year has a knack for the dramatic, as half of his 14 career goals have clinched wins for the Titans.