Gauchos will start soccer season ranked 18th

UCSB is ranked 18th in the country in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America preseason top 25.

The Gauchos, the Big West regular season champions last season, will be relying on youth to carry them through 2014. Coach Tim Vom Steeg’s squad will be led by five standout sophomores: midfielders Ismaila Jome (the Big West Freshman of the Year) and Drew Murphy, defenders Nick DePuy and Kevin Garcia-Lopez and goalkeeper Josh McNeely.

Those players will be joined by one of the most talented freshmen classes in program history. Some the key newcomers include Adonis Amaya, Axel Mendez, Ryo Fujii and Jeff Quezada, who all played for the L.A. Galaxy Academy, one of the top youth programs in the country.

Defending national champion Notre Dame is the No. 1 team in the preseason rankings, national runner-up Maryland is No. 2 and Virginia, a national semifinalist, is third.

West Coast teams fill the next four spots, led by UCLA at No. 4. The Bruins are followed by New Mexico (a 2013 Final Four team), Washington and Cal. UConn, Georgetown and Michigan State round out the top 10. At No. 20, Stanford gives the Pac-12 four teams in the rankings

The Big West has three teams in the poll. UC Irvine is ahead of UCSB at No. 16 and Cal State Northridge is 24th.

Besides its matches against the ranked Big West opponents, UCSB will play at Stanford on Sept. 9 and host UCLA in a nationally televised clash on Sept. 20 at Harder Stadium.

The Gauchos kick things off with their annual exhibition game against Westmont on Saturday, Aug. 23 before officially opening the season on Aug. 29 at College of Charleston. Their home opener is Sept. 5 against Northwestern.


1. Notre Dame
2. Maryland
3. Virginia
5. New Mexico
6. Washington
7. California
8. UConn
9. Georgetown
10. Michigan State
11. Wake Forest
12. Marquette
13. Akron
14. Louisville
15. Penn State
16. UC Irvine
17. Coastal Carolina
18. UCSB
19. Univ. Maryland, Baltimore County
20. Stanford
21. Wisconsin
22. North Carolina
23. Charlotte
24. Cal State Northridge
25. Navy