The regular season for Division 1 men’s soccer continues this week as UCSB will test their away form in a doubleheader matchup on Thursday and Sunday.
First, the Gauchos will get the chance to snap their current two-game losing streak and return to a .500 win percentage against the struggling Gonzaga Bulldogs. Then the team will look to get an all-time series first-ever win, as they visit an on-fire Oregon Beavers side.
Following last week’s disappointing 3-0 loss at home versus the Cal Bears, the Gauchos now find themselves at an overall record of 1-2 on the season.
In terms of NCAA D1 RPI, which ranks the top teams in the country by their record and strength of schedule, this ranks UCSB at 63rd in the nation – with Gonzaga coming in at 185th and Oregon State at 32nd. And just like the Bears, the Beavers will prove to be yet another challenge worthy of being circled on the calendar as both sides received votes in the latest United Soccer Coaches poll.
As for the Bulldogs, the start to their season hasn’t gone quite as planned considering the team’s current four-game losing streak places them at a 0-4 overall record on the year. With Gonzaga’s only home game resulting in a 1-2 loss to Sacramento State, a Big West Conference opponent to UCSB, this potential trap game features the Gauchos’ best odds at getting back on track. Although this matchup looks favorable on paper, the record book preaches otherwise. UCSB trails in the all-time series against Gonzaga with an overall record of 2-4-1, as the Gauchos’ previous victory occurred back in 2012; last time out, the Bulldogs were victorious on the road in a 2013 regular season matchup that ended 2-0.
The Beavers are in a much better situation at the moment, as Oregon State started their regular season at an overall record of 3-1. Following a 4-1 victory over Pacific earlier in the week, Oregon State has now extended their winning streak to three consecutive games.
Their team will face Grand Canyon University on the road Thursday before returning home to host the Gauchos and wrap up their tripleheader. UCSB has a unique opportunity here to notch a historic first-ever win versus Oregon State, as the Gauchos also trail in this one with an overall record of 0-2-1 in the all-time series; these two sides’ last matchup featured a 2-2 double overtime result in the 2012 Gonzaga Nike Classic in Spokane, Washington.
Gauchos to keep an eye on for this week are junior defender Hunter Ashworth and senior defender Noah Billingsley. Both players were absent during the loss to Cal due to international duties for the New Zealand squad — they’ll surely make a key impact in returning to Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg’s side.
Theo O’Malley is the one to watch for Gonzaga, as the junior midfielder is tied for team-leading in both most goals (one) and most shots (seven) in his third year for the Bulldogs. The sophomore defender from Spain and Valencia C.F.’s youth system product, Adrian Crespo, is what makes Oregon State tick. The second-year man has a team-leading five total assists and is tied for most goals for the Beavers with two to his name.
UCSB first visits Gonzaga this Thursday, Sept. 12, then plays away again at Oregon State on Sunday, Sept. 15; both games are set to kick off at 7:00 p.m.