UCSB 0 Davis 1

We lose.


We had very little to play for while Davis was fighting for its proverbial life.  It’s also Halloween weekend with a big concert on Saturday night in the Thunderdome, so maybe that played a role in our energy level as well.

I had very few goals for this match.  I didn’t want Espana/Batista to pick up their 5th yellows, I wanted to avoid a red card, I wanted Mendoza to avoid his 6th yellow, I wanted to avoid any injuries, and I wanted to avoid OT in order to minimize all the aforementioned possibilities.  While I couldn’t bring myself to prefer a loss, I also wanted to avoid the prospect of playing Cal Poly again since those matches are such a wild card.  So, mission accomplished.

Apparently, Vom Steeg had slightly different priorities from me.  I understand why he started Espana on Senior Day, but we earned a throw in within the first two minutes of the match.  I was sure Vom Steeg already had someone waiting at the scorer’s table and that Espana would come out of the match.  Nope.  He was subbed out after about 5 minutes. Ok, no biggie.  However, I was mystified when he brought him back into the match with over 20 minutes to go.  Yes, we were down a goal, but why risk it?  And let’s say the risk pays off, and we go to overtime?  Why risk the other risks?  Did Vom Steeg owe Cal Poly a solid?

I also thought it was risky to keep Quezada in the match after he picked up a yellow card (his fourth on the year) in the first half.  Ok, Batista shouldn’t play and Ilskens was unavailable due to being ill, so the options were limited.  But still, I was expecting Liua to come in at CB.  Nope.

Even with a win versus Davis, a win in the semi-final and a shootout loss (counts as a draw in the RPI calculations) in the final, an at-large bid would still be a long shot.  We need to win the conference tourney for inclusion into the NCAA tourney, and we’re going on the road in the first round.  That’s just the way it is.  I’m no fan of the RPI, but I am a realist.  While only the top 16 teams are seeded, the NCAA selection committee considers RPI and geography when creating the first round match-ups.  So, we would most likely travel to a team from the West with an RPI rank in the 16-32 range.  Possible teams would be:

15.   Denver

23.  Pacific

24.  UCLA

25.  Utah Valley

32.  San Diego State

Not to belabor the point, but we not going to have a high enough RPI ranking to merit hosting a first round match.  Now, I wouldn’t bet my life on that as the NCAA could throw us a bone as a conference champ and a nice facility, but I am fully expecting a first round road match if we win the conference tournament title.

Since I viewed this match as a throw-away game, I won’t be doing any analysis on it except for sharing our formations that started each half.

First half (excluding Espana’s first 5 minutes):

Dream Team 4-2-3-1 football formation

Second half:

Dream Team 4-2-1-3 football formation

Now we wait.  Davis plays at Fullerton on Saturday, and we host the winner on Wednesday.  In my opinion, a Davis win would benefit us, so I’ll be hoping for a Davis win… in PKs.

Big West Tournament Seedings

With CSUN defeating UCR in OT, UCSB secures home field throughout the Big West Tournament.  With the win, CSUN earned the top seed in the South.  The seeding goes as follows:


  1.  CSUN
  2.  Fullerton
  3. Riverside


  1.  UCSB
  2. Sac State
  3. Davis or Cal Poly

If Davis defeats UCSB Sunday afternoon, Davis earns the 3 seed.

If Davis loses or draws, Cal Poly earns the 3 seed.

Here is the schedule:

November 5  (Saturday)

Riverside at Sac State

Davis/Cal Poly at Fullerton


November 9  (Wednesday)

Riverside/Sac State winner at CSUN

Davis/Cal Poly/Fullerton winner at UCSB


November 12  (Saturday)

Championship match


One side note: CSUF’s lead assist man and #10, Robert Coronado, received a red card in tonight’s match.  All things being equal, that benefits UCSB as we would likely prefer to host Davis/Poly after they had to travel to Fullerton.

Sunday’s match between UCSB and Davis will be interesting as Davis has everything to play for while UCSB does not.  UCSB will surely sit Espana and Batista (both on 4 yellows) and might very well sit Mendoza to prevent him from picking up his 6th yellow card.  Other regular starters will likely not play more than 60 minutes, so I expect a heavy dose of players like Moni, Peterson, Mejia, Montalvo, and Liua.  Any player not in Vom Steeg’s plans to redshirt could see the field.  While the team doesn’t have much to play for (other than maintaining momentum and buoying the RPI ranking), any non-regular players have an opportunity to make a case for playing time in the postseason.  I don’t expect us to roll over.



UCSB 1 Sac State 0

Big West North Champions!

Given our 5 game losing streak and poor RPI ranking due largely to the Big West having a down year, it’s nice to find ourselves with a respectable 10-5-3 record (undefeated in conference play) and with the North #1 seed wrapped up with one match to spare.  That means we can sit Espana and Batista who are both on 4 yellow cards.  Remember that yellow card suspensions occur at 8 at the start of postseason play (including conference tournaments).  It may also be wise to sit Mendoza versus Davis on Sunday because it would be far from ideal for him to pick up his 6th yellow card in an almost meaningless game.  Anyway, the point is that the Davis match has no bearing on our conference tournament position, and it’s nice to enjoy options.

In today’s match at Sac State, Pando and Perno got the starts over usual starters Espana and Mendoza.  Feucht also played in a more advanced position and Selemani played wide left instead of at the point.

Dream Team 4-2-1-3 football formation

Seven minutes into the match Perno hurt himself on a sliding challenge, so our personnel got shifted around with Espana coming in for Perno, Quezada shifting over to left back, Batista sliding back to CB, and Feucht playing deeper.

Dream Team 4-1-4-1 football formation

This may be a good time to pause and talk briefly about the left back position.  Quality left backs don’t grow on trees.  UCSB happens to have been very fortunate over the years with guys like Lochhead, Tetteh, Kiffe, and now Mendoza playing there.  But left backs are lot like type O- blood  because it’s difficult to find a player with defensive abilities who is also left footed.  This is different from a left or right midfielder where playing as an inverted winger (playing on the side that is opposite from one’s preferred foot) is not viewed as a disadvantage because one doesn’t need to play long balls (or accurate balls with lots of pace) up the wing like an outside defender.  Perhaps more importantly, an inverted winger has the option to cut a ball inside and then be on their stronger foot for a shot on goal (see Chris Pontius).  So, when your first choice left back is suspended and your established backup gets injured, it throws a monkey wrench into things.  For the remainder of the first half, Quezada would play as the left back.

Otherwise, the first half was not terribly eventful.  Sacramento State looked pretty dangerous on their corner kicks, but otherwise, neither team played very well.  In fact, I would say none of our players had an outstanding first half.

We started the second half with Montalvo at left back.

Dream Team 4-1-2-3 football formation

Like the first half, the second half was generally a poor display of soccer by both teams.

With about 25 minutes to go in regulation, Vom Steeg brought on Selemani as a sub and dropped DePuy to CB and moved Batista up into the defensive midfield.  It wasn’t long until DePuy challenged for the ball with a slide tackle that looked clean but the ref whistled DePuy for the foul and also gave him a yellow card.  DePuy was incredulous, and the ref gave DePuy a private lecture.  The ref seemed to indicate that the bottom of DePuy’s cleats came up, but it seemed like a very harsh yellow as it didn’t seem to endanger the opponent.  Otherwise the ref called a pretty good game.  By the way, I have this theory on the quality of refs and how it relates to their BMI.  Based on observing many refs over the years, there appears to be a correlation to how fit they appear and how well they call a match.  If I see a ref take the field, and they’ve got a ponch on them, I worry about the calls I’ll see.  I’m not sure what it is that tends to lend pudgy refs to be poorer refs… laziness, lack of commitment to the profession, the need to exert control over something other than their weight, a pseudo Napoleon complex, etc.  This should be studied.  Anyway, we had a fit ref today, so he was pretty good.

With about 12 minutes to go, I thought may eyes were playing tricks on me.  We actually started to possess the ball in a methodical way in the offensive third.  We were shifting the ball from side to side through the central pivot point while passing the ball back and out of pressure when there were no viable options.  It started to resemble a soccer match.  As I’m marveling at this new development, Selemani received the ball centrally with 10 minutes to play, created some space, and placed a well struck ball out of the keeper’s reach inside the right post.  So, we should do more of that.  Oh, and in case you haven’t noticed, Selemani is very much in form.

This being the 2016 Gauchos, we made things interesting by conceding some chances for Sac State.

The first came from a free header on a cross that the defender (who had pushed forward) thankfully didn’t put on frame.  Either DePuy or Montalvo missed their mark.

The second came from a long, high FK from near midfield that should have been dealt with by Le Roux, but he stayed on his line, and Sac State had the first shot blocked and their follow shot went wide.

Their final chance came after Batista was too aggressive with a sliding challenge that earned him a yellow card and gave Sac State a free kick from 23 yards out with under a minute to play.

Meanwhile, in the South…

The matches have concluded, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag.  The good news is that UCR continued their free fall with a 2-1 loss at UCI.

Had either Fullerton or CSUN won, we would have clinched homefield instead of a coinflip deciding the host should UCR and UCSB meet in the final as the #1 seeds.  But, alas, Fullerton and CSUN drew.  So, the standings look like this:

CSUN   15

CSUF   14

UCR    13

For UCR to be the #1 seed, they need the following:

Win at CSUN


Fullerton lose at UCI.

So, it will be difficult for UCR to earn the #1 seed because they need that exact combination of results.