Akron returning to play UCSB at Harder Stadium

It didn’t happen last December as many in Santa Barbara had hoped, but it will take place this October: Akron vs. UCSB in men’s soccer at Harder Stadium.

The marquee matchup on Oct. 5 highlights UCSB’s 2011 schedule.

Akron will be returning to the stadium where it won its first NCAA College Cup title for a national TV game on the Fox Soccer Channel. The Zips defeated Louisville on a glorious December day in Santa Barbara.


The Zips will have a lot of new faces, as seven members of last year’s championship team were taken in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft, including a record five in the first round. But coach Caleb Porter has built an elite program that reloads rather than rebuilds.

Tim Vom Steeg has done the same at UCSB, and he challenges his teams every season with a tough nonconference schedule.

Besides Akron, the 2011 season will include four teams that played in the 2010 NCAA Tournament: Duke, West Virginia, UCLA and Sacramento State.

The Akron match comes right in the middle of a slate of four matches (three in Big West) in 11 days.

UCSB will take a trip through ACC country with matches at Duke and North Carolina State (Sept. 2-4). Duke, a perennial ACC contender, is led by defender Sebastien Ibeagha, one of three collegiate players on the U.S. Under-20 national team.

North Carolina State, which expressed interest in hiring Vom Steeg, name Kelly Findley as its coach. He came over from Butler, where he won the Horizon League and was the school’s all-time winningest coach.

The Gauchos return home for a pair of nonconference matches against Big East teams West Virginia and Villanova (Sept. 9-11). West Virginia is one of the stronger teams in the Big East. The Mountaineers reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year, losing to Akron 3-2. The team is led by a pair of New Zealand U-20 national team players, Andy Bevin and Ryan Cain.

A visit to UCLA is next on the schedule on Sept. 16. The Gauchos and Bruins last season played before the largest on-campus crowd in NCAA history. A crowd of 15,896 at Harder Stadium saw the Gauchos win 2-0.

UCLA is led by Kelyn Rowe, one of the top midfielders in the country and a member of the U.S. Under-20 team.

UCSB faces two strong West Region programs in University of San Diego and Sacramento State for home games on Sept. 23-25. USD has returning West Coast Conference Player of the Year, forward Patrick Wallen. Sacramento State, of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season.

The Gauchos open Big West play on the road at UC Riverside on Sept. 28, and three days later play host to bitter rival UC Irvine.

The Gauchos close out their regular season with a home match against Cal Poly on Nov. 5.

A recent article on the Web site, College Soccer News, rated the UCSB-Cal Poly rivalry as the No. 1 men’s college soccer rivalry in the country right now.

Said the article: “The fan base of both schools have made this one truly special.  You want passion in a game then check out UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly.  This Central Coast rivalry is a dandy.  For starters there is no love lost between these two Big West Conference schools which are located about one hour from each other.

“The tremendous fan support that this one generates catapults it into the number one spot.  In fact, the UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly game has produced six of the ten highest attended regular season college soccer matches in NCAA history.  During the past four years the series has been closely contested with UCSB holding a 5-2-2 edge.  The excitement of the rivalry has been further fueled by the fact five of those games went into overtime.”

UCSB vs. UCLA ranked seventh on the list of 14 rivalries ranked by CSN.

“Few rivalries can compare with the pure excitement this match generates,” said CSN.

UCSB will open the 2011 season with its annual meeting against Westmont College on Aug. 20 at Harder Stadium.

The Gauchos’ regular season opener is at home against Seattle University of Aug. 27.

UCSB, which was knocked out of the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year at Cal,  is expected to have an explosive offense next season with the return of Sam Garza, Michael Nonni and David Opoku up front along transfer Dominick Sarle from St. John’s, and senior Luis Silva in the midfield.

UCSB is selling season-tickets packages for soccer. The program, which claims to have the largest ticket base in college soccer, is hoping to reach 2,000 paid season-ticket holders in 2011.

The 2011 season ticket packages are as follows:

  • $175 – Family Plan (two adults, three youth). Includes up to three free GKids t-shirts for youth 8th grade and under in your household and two 2011 soccer scarves.
    $60 – Individual. Includes the 2011 scarf or $5 credit at game day Gauchos Shop.
    $35 – Faculty/Staff. Includes the 2011 scarf or $5 credit at game day Gauchos Shop.
    $130 – “V-Pack” Family Plan (2 adults, 3 youth). “V” stands for San Ynez Valley and Ventura County and is available for fans living in those areas. V-Packs include eight of the 12 matches. Includes three free GKids t-shirts for youth 8th grade and under in your household.

Contact UCSB at 893-UCSB for more information.

2011-2012 SCHEDULE
Date Opponent / Event Location Time / Result
08/20/11 vs. Westmont Santa Barbara 7:00 p.m. PT
08/27/11 vs. Seattle University Santa Barbara 7:00 p.m. PT
09/02/11 at Duke Durham, N.C. 4:30 p.m. PT
09/04/11 at North Carolina State Raleigh, N.C. 9:00 a.m. PT
09/09/11 vs. West Virginia Santa Barbara 7:00 p.m. PT
09/11/11 vs. Villanova Santa Barbara 1:00 p.m. PT
09/16/11 at UCLA Westwood 7:00 p.m. PT
09/23/11 vs. San Diego Santa Barbara 7:00 p.m. PT
09/25/11 vs. Sacramento State Santa Barbara 5:00 p.m. PT
09/28/11 at UC Riverside * Riverside 7:00 p.m. PT
10/01/11 vs. UC Irvine * Santa Barbara 7:00 p.m. PT
10/05/11 vs. Akron Santa Barbara. 7:00 p.m. PT
10/08/11 at UC Davis * Davis 3:00 p.m. PT
10/11/11 vs. Cal State Fullerton * Santa Barbara 7:00 p.m. PT
10/14/11 at Cal Poly * San Luis Obispo. 7:00 p.m. PT
10/22/11 vs. UC Riverside * Santa Barbara 7:00 p.m. PT
10/26/11 vs. UC Davis * Santa Barbara 7:00 p.m. PT
10/29/11 at Cal State Fullerton * Fullerton 7:00 p.m. PT
11/02/11 at Cal State Northridge   * Northridge 7:00 p.m. PT
11/05/11 vs. Cal Poly * Santa Barbara 7:00 p.m. PT 

*Big West Conference match

Big West Tournament

11/09/11 Semifinals TBA TBA
11/12/11 Championship TBA TBA
NCAA Tournament
11/17/11 First Round TBA TBA
11/20/11 Second Round TBA TBA
11/27/11 Third Round TBA TBA
12/02/11 Quarterfinals TBA TBA
12/03/11 Quarterfinals TBA TBA
12/04/11 Quarterfinals TBA TBA
NCAA College Cup
12/09/11 Semifinals Birmingham, Ala. TBA
12/11/11 Championship Birmingham, Ala. TBA