The #7 UCSB men’s soccer team drew the #12 seed in the 2007 NCAA Tournament in its attempt at a repeat National Championship.
The Gauchos (12-3-4, 9-1-2 in the Big West) received a first-round bye by virtue of being one of the 16 seeded squads and will host the winner of a match between unseeded squads Washington and Portland in the second round. Should Santa Barbara prevail, it will likely travel to the Midwest to take on fifth-seeded Ohio State.
“As we learned last year, the draw is more important than the seed,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “Anytime we can stay away from playing California schools, it’s a good draw.”
UC Davis, who drew a first-round date with California on the road, will also represent the Big West. Absent from the field was Cal Poly, after the Mustangs (11-4-4, 6-2-4 Big West) stumbled to the finish and were passed by the Aggies (12-4-3, 7-3-2 Big West) in the conference standings.
Regional location plays a large role in the pairings for the first two rounds, and UCSB ended up with a less hazardous path than fellow California power Santa Clara, who earned the #7 seed. The Broncos will host the winner between New Mexico and last year’s national runner-up UCLA in the second round.
“Santa Clara got the draw of death with New Mexico and UCLA,” Vom Steeg said. “We were the two teams left in California, so luckily we got the better end.”
The Gauchos have not faced either Portland or Washington over the last few years, but UCSB is still familiar with each opponent. The Pilots ended the season as the third-place finisher in the West Coast Conference, while the Huskies finished fifth in the Pac-10.
“I saw Washington twice and I was very impressed with them,” Vom Steeg said. “But their leading goal scorer, one of the top forwards in the country, got injured and they finished on a down note. Portland got off to a slow start, but really turned it on. Two weeks ago they weren’t in the tournament.”
Regardless of the opponent, UCSB has already shown it has the talent to get it done come playoff time after winning the title as an unseeded squad last season. The second-round match will be on Nov. 28 at Harder Stadium, as the Gauchos look to advance to their third College Cup in four years.