While the UCSB men’s soccer team won’t participate in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 11 seasons, the team received good news last week when the 2012 Big West All-Conference teams were announced.
Along with Cal State Northridge and Cal Poly, the Gauchos were among the major award-winners this season.
“We know we had a good team and it’s nice when [the league] recognizes that,” senior midfielder Nic Ryan said.
Earning the biggest award for Santa Barbara was Ryan, who garnered the Big West Midfielder of the Year award. His first All-Big West honor of his career, Ryan is the third consecutive Gaucho to earn the award.
Ryan tied for third in both goals and points, tallying eight goals and three assists for 19 points on the year, 12 of which came during Big West play. Ryan also ranked fourth in conference in game-winning goals with four.
“I was extremely happy that Nic Ryan, a player who hasn’t gotten a whole lot of publicity and not a whole lot of people have talked about him, got Midfielder of the Year,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said.
Freshman midfielder Ema Boateng took the Big West Freshman of the Year award after posting four goals and four assists, becoming the third player in the last four years to win the award for the Gauchos. He also tied for fifth in the Big West in game- winning goals with two.
“We always knew that Ema was going to win the award,” junior midfielder Fifi Baiden said. “Usually freshmen don’t step in right away, but he helped us both offensively and defensively.”
Three Gauchos made the All-Big West First Team: Ryan, Boateng and Baiden. Baiden started 17 of 19 games en route to his first league honor of his career. Playing a defensive mid, Baiden’s contributions may not show up in the box scores, but he was indispensable to UCSB, controlling the midfield, aiding the UCSB defense and allowing other players to push up.
“I thought [Baiden] was our most consistent player all year,” Vom Steeg said. “He’s the one that makes things go for us, so it’s good that others recognized that he had a good season.”
In his first year with UCSB, junior defender Daniel Welsh earned All-Big West Second Team honors. He started 17 games and was often responsible for guarding the opponent’s best attacker. With Welsh, the Gauchos tallied an impressive 0.90 goals- against average and five shutouts.
“It’s exciting he got Second Team,” Baiden said. “I thought we would make First Team, but it’s a new conference for him and he made his mark as a good defender. I see him being the defender of the year next year.”
Finally, senior midfielder Josue Madueno earned an Honorable Mention pick for the second straight season. Madueno was just one of two players to play in every game this season and stepped up big when UCSB was plagued with injuries.
“I think Josue deserved a little more,” Vom Steeg said. “He’s a great team guy and he played wherever we needed.”
A version of this article appeared on page 10 of November 15, 2012’s print edition of the Nexus.