The UC Santa Barbara men’s soccer team made it to the Sweet 16 but lost a hard fought battle with Clemson, 3-2, in the NCAA playoffs. On a rainy night at Clemson, the Gauchos were able to score first on a header by substitute Seo-in Kim. The second goal came late in the second half, on a heads up play by Kevin Feucht, who intercepted a headed backpass to the goalie and poked it into the net.
UCSB had been seeded 15th in the nation and ended with a season record of 14-7-2. It was the Gauchos’ seventh appearance in the round of 16 since 2011 and their record is now 2-5. The team advanced to the game with Clemson after a tough overtime victory at Harder Stadium against the University of South Carolina. The game was knotted at 0-0 in regulation. Just over two minutes into overtime, star forward Ismalia Jome hit a right footer into the goal.
The Gauchos made it into the NCAA playoffs even after losing the Big West championship game to CSU Fullerton.
The rivalry between UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in men’s soccer is taking on a record-breaking magnitude. In their final meeting of the 2015 season, the game between UCSB and Cal Poly at Harder Stadium drew 14, 919 fans -- the second largest crowd in NCAA history. (The largest crowd in NCAA soccer history was for a game between UCSB and UCLA.)
The matchup between the Blue and Green attracted 13 of the 19 largest soccer crowds in the history of the NCAA. In the past five years, more than 124,000 fans have watched the two teams play. More than 8,000 UCSB students were in attendance for the October 24 Alumni Night game against Cal Poly.
The growth in soccer attendance at UCSB has been dramatic. In 2000, UCSB did not break the top 20 in attendance. It has been number one in attendance every year since 2007. The team drew 46,132 fans to its home games this year.
After 40 years at the helm of the UCSB swimming program, Wilson announced that he will be retiring by next summer. “Wilson was such a good guy,” said Bill Mahoney, UCSB’s Athletic Director of Communications. “The staff is sad to see him go, but he won’t truly be gone.”
When Bill Mahoney met head swimming coach Gregg Wilson in 1984, the athletics offices were located in a series of trailers at the edge of campus. “They were kind of our own little neighborhood,” said Mahoney.
It was in this little neighborhood that Mahoney and Wilson would strike up a friendship. Wilson, a coach who earned 39 conference championships throughout his career, taught Mahoney’s daughter how to swim in his backyard pool.
Wilson started his career at UCSB by taking control of the men’s program in 1975. In three years, he coached his first team of Gauchos to the conference championship. That win sent the men’s team on a 23-year winning streak within the conference. He also took leadership of the women’s team in 1985 and led them to win 13 conference titles. “His athletes truly epitomized the word team,” said Mahoney.
Wilson has recruited and coached many champions like Jason Lezak, `99, who swam anchor leg in the 4x100 relay in the 2008 Olympic games, winning the gold medal in a come-from-behind victory. Wilson also plans to send more athletes to the Olympics before his retirement. “My last head coaching event will be the Olympic trials,” said Wilson in his retirement announcement posted on the UCSB Athletics website. “We’re going to have a great group there.”
Wilson changed the game for UCSB swimming. “He graduated from Cal, but he’s a Gaucho at heart,” said Mahoney. “He was able to get athletes here that most coaches couldn’t. His magnetism as a person, as well as a coach, made his program so attractive to athletes. He chose great swimmers – and he made them better.”
Tanner Warrick is a fourth year student at UC Santa Barbara majoring in history and psychology. He plans to explore the fields of education and journalism in the future.
For four years, making it to ice hockey practice was not easy for the UCSB team. Founding member Matthew Snyder, `11, remembers the 45-minute drive to the Channel Islands Ice Center out in Oxnard. “When I was a senior in 2011, we talked about the plans for the rink in Goleta and our eyes lit up thinking about a home crowd coming out to the games,” he said. “Having the rink close to the school is very motivating and gives a sense of place.”
Snyder, fellow alum Jake Wiskel and other Gauchos founded the team back in 2010 by recruiting members of UCSB’s club sport roller hockey team. The core group of 8 roller hockey players became a Division 3 ice hockey club of 16, with a coach and their own uniforms. Snyder negotiated for the use of the Oxnard rink. “We did a lot of the groundwork,” he said.
“We found out how much it would cost and asked if we could have a home in their ice facility.” Funding during those early days came from team dues and grassroots promotion, with Snyder driving recruitment on campus by planting signs along the bike paths.
The first club members, many who played ice hockey in high school, enjoyed the chance to play on the ice during their college years. David Holmes, UCSB’s financial and academic services manager, was the only grad student on the team back in 2011. “We had a number of solid hockey players, some of whom could have had a shot playing NCAA D-3 if they had chosen to go that route,” he said. “Our top player that year was Travis Noe, who went on to play professional roller hockey in France and is a member of the U.S. national inline hockey team.”
A New Home Advantage
This year’s season opens with a new home advantage for the current team participating in the National Collegiate Hockey Association’s Southwestern Conference -- all team practices and home games are now held at the new Ice in Paradise in Goleta.
“I can’t begin to tell you how excited we are,” said Alex Wood-Doughty, a Ph.D. student who currently serves as the team’s captain. “Now we can practice twice a week and play actual home games. The facility is amazing and we are so thankful to everyone who helped make it happen.” The team opened its 2015-2016 season at the Goleta location. Due to a generous donation, admission to UCSB ice hockey games this season is free.
In large part, this home rink advantage is due to direct private support from local hockey enthusiasts like UCSB trustee Alex Pananides, H `06, and part-time Santa Barbara resident Jack Norqual, a board member of The USA Hockey Foundation. (Norqual was the visionary behind Ice in Paradise and served as the facility’s campaign chair.) Both Pananides and Norqual see a bright future for student athletes at UCSB who desire to play ice hockey, given the rapid growth of the sport on the West Coast.
Right on the ice, alumni support for the UCSB student organization comes from Dr. William “Hod” Dunbar, `96, a Santa Barbara-based orthopedic physician and surgeon who volunteers at home games as the on-site medical contact. Dunbar, who took up ice hockey as a child and continues to play, participated in UCSB’s roller hockey club before the ice hockey team was established.
Wood-Doughty and his team are also thankful for the support from the community and from University staff, in particular from their advisor Susan Goodale, UCSB’s director of development for student affairs. “Without her help, and the help of the University, we would not be in the position we are in,” he said. “It was awesome to see the stands full for our opening game.”
For both alumni and current students, having a rink close to campus means an opportunity to build the program as a draw for prospective UCSB students. “Alumni can spread the word that we have a growing program to players in high school, who are trying to decide where to go to college,” said Holmes. “And of course, we need to come out to support the team at games both here at home and when they are on the road.”
Snyder, who now works as the estates regional manager for Jackson Family Wines, is organizing a reunion weekend for former ice hockey team members on February 5 to 7, 2016, with plans for an alumni game. “We want to meet the kids that play and cheer them on,” he said. “It’s a great time to celebrate success as a team.”
For more information about ice hockey at UCSB, contact Susan Goodale at email@example.com or call (805) 893-3530.