While the end of the regular season and Big West Tournament may not have gone exactly as planned for the UCSB men’s soccer team, the Gauchos were still rewarded on Monday with a top-16 seed into the NCAA Tournament.
With the fifteenth seed, the Gauchos will get a first-round bye this weekend before playing either UC Berkeley or the University of San Francisco on Tuesday, Nov. 25 at Harder Stadium.
“We like our seed,” senior forward Chris Pontius said. The co-captain continued: “We get a home game, then hopefully off to Maryland.”
Maryland is the #2 team in the country, and would likely be the Gauchos’ opponent if they make it to the sweet sixteen. Pontius, who was on the 2006 national championship UCSB team, has some perspective on the matter:
“The playoffs are never easy.”
Three other Big West squads were awarded with playoff spots, and the four NCAA-bound teams marks the largest total in the history of the conference. Cal Poly will play in a rematch with UCLA, Davis hosts Denver in the first round, and UC Irvine has a bye and will host the Cal Poly-UCLA winner.
“It’s the best league over the four years I’ve been here,” Pontius said. “Now we just need teams to start making it deeper into the NCAA tournament.”
Pontius was also among the Gauchos receiving end-of-season Big West honors, earning a first-team all-conference selection. He was the only Gaucho to do so, but fellow seniors Nick Perera and Alfonso Motagalvan were named to the second team.
“We should have had more players getting awards,” Pontius said. “It’s disappointing, but that’s the way it goes.”
Four Gauchos were named honorable mention in the conference. Freshmen midfielders Luis Silva and Michael Tetteh, along with sophomore defender Michael Boxall and junior forward David Walker earned that distinction.
The postseason kicks off this Friday, but the Gauchos will next play at Harder Stadium on Tuesday night. Tickets will be $3 for students.