So football season is upon us, and as incoming freshman, it’s likely just dawned on you that UCSB doesn’t actually have a team. Distressing, no? That’s what I thought when I was in your position a couple years back. But I was — as you can pretty easily guess by reading the Sports page of the school paper — entirely wrong. There are plenty of other awesome sporting events to attend, even while the rest of the country single-mindedly fixates on the pigskin. So this Fall, say farewell to football and say hello to futbol, women’s volleyball, men’s water polo and even cross country.
“But there are so many choices!” you may be saying. “Following football obsessively allowed me to not worry about all these other sports! How am I supposed to get my bearings in this crazy new sports world? It’s all so overwhelming!” Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what you’re saying. But don’t worry, that’s where I come in. I’ve outlined all of the Fall sports in a neat little package for you to refer to at all times. Just don’t lose this article; otherwise, you’re pretty much screwed.
Now, without further adieu:
Pros: This one’s easy. The headliner of the UCSB Athletic Dept., the men’s soccer team gets huge amounts of student support, and for good reason. Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg’s squads have advanced to at least the Sweet Sixteen in each of the last six years, and in 2004 were the national runners-up. And oh yeah, in 2006 the team beat UCLA in the College Cup final to give UCSB its second national championship in history. A mob of students threw our goal into the ocean. YouTube it. Seriously.
Cons: With the NCAA’s highest average attendance — even though, as a quarter-system school, half the home games are played before classes even starts — it might be a little crowded at Harder Stadium. But aside from claustrophobics, who wouldn’t want a packed stadium?
Preview: Ranked #9 nationally after a disappointing early exit from the playoffs last year, the Gauchos are back with a stellar freshman class and an enormous desire to get back to the College Cup. These guys will be fun to watch.
Pros: This is soccer school USA, and Head Coach Paul Stumpf always has his teams running to the top of the Big West. Scoring was an occasional issue last season, but with a 4-0 blowout in the season opener, drilling the ball in the net looks like a problem left in the past. The women’s squad has the potential to really get on the map if it takes down second-ranked nationally UCLA in the preseason.
Cons: Beating the Bruins is hard to do. However, a tough preseason schedule will get the Gauchos ready to slice through the softer Big West competition when the regular season starts.
Preview: Last year the Gauchos’ season was marred by a ridiculous number of injuries. With fresh legs and a bunch of good freshmen, they will be far more powerful this year. Big West coaches must be feeling nervous because they picked Santa Barbara to win the league in their preseason poll.
Pros: Tall, gorgeous women in spandex who have a celebrated history of breaking the hearts of Nexus Sports staff. Of course, we wouldn’t love them if they couldn’t play ball, and they definitely can. In fact, they have only missed the NCAA tournament once in program history.
Cons: That one season was last year.
Preview: Head Coach Kathy Gregory, the only coach in the program’s 34-year history, is ready to take Santa Barbara back to their rightful place at the top. With a mature and highly skilled team, look for these women to make some serious moves this year.
Men’s Water Polo
Pros: Led by Head Coach Wolf Wigo, who is probably the greatest American water polo player in history, the UCSB men’s water polo team is dominant. Simply put, they have never been ranked outside of the top 20 nationally. EVER. Plus, they handed us our first national championship.
Cons: Currently there are only 18 Division 1 teams, which naturally boosts the team’s ranking. Plus, the national championship came all the way back in 1979.
Preview: Playing in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, the pinnacle of college water polo leagues, means the Gauchos always have their work cut out for them. Their pick to finish sixth out of nine teams in the league ranks UCSB as probably the sixth-best team in the country, and with an enormous amount of talent, they are fully capable of making some magic.