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UCSB Men’s Soccer Loses Star Player Kevin Feucht for Season

Big West Midfielder of Year suffers torn ACL in team's first practice

Kevin Feucht powers a header in a game last season against Sacramento State. Feucht scored a team-high 11 goals for the Gauchos.
Kevin Feucht powers a header in a game last season against Sacramento State. Feucht scored a team-high 11 goals for the Gauchos. (Noozhawk file photo)

Kevin Feucht, the 2016 Midfielder of the Year in the Big West and last year’s leading scorer on the UCSB men’s soccer team, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on the first day of practice and is lost for the season, coach Tim Vom Steeg said on Tuesday.

Feucht wasn’t involved in any contact when he went down 30 minutes into the first day the Gauchos started preparing for the 2017 season. His cleat apparently got caught as he was making a move on the artificial turf field behind Rob Gym.

Kevin Feucht will miss the entire UCSB season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee during the first day of practice
Kevin Feucht will miss the entire UCSB season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee during the first day of practice (UCSB photo)

“We just lost, in my opinion, a top-five player in college soccer,” Vom Steeg said.

Vom Steeg was building the team around the athletic 6-foot-4 Feucht, a senior from Germany who came to UCSB as a sophomore after playing his freshman season at the University of Charleston, a Division 2 school. 

As a sophomore, he started 22 games for the Gauchos, earned All-Big West first-team honors and was name to the All-Far West Region second team.

He started all 20 games last season and was the team's leading goal scorer with 11 goals, and added two assists for 24 points. He’d often celebrate his goals by doing a back flip.

His strength, however, was breaking up opponent attacks in the midfield and starting the counterattack.

Vom Steeg’s plan to was to build the team around the dynamic Feucht. Now the veteran coach has to come up with a Plan B.

“It’s going to be a challenge, absolutely,” he said.  "But, as I’ve said all along from day one, this is a very, very good group of players. I’ve been more impressed with them as we go out and train every day. Losing a player like Kevin means you do have to play the game differently. He’s the only player I could lose where I have to change my shape and system.”

He equated the loss to a college football team losing its starting quarterback. 

“You can put somebody else in but the offense doesn’t work, so you have to find a way to move your football team. And that’s kind of where we are,” he said.

Vom Steeg said because the injury happened early the team has time to adapt to the adjustments he’s going to make before the season starts.

With Feucht out for the entire season, he is eligible to apply for a red-shirt season and return in 2018, when UCSB hosts the College Cup — the NCAA semifinals and final.

“That’s a huge motivation,” said Vom Steeg.

UCSB makes its 2017 debut on Saturday at 7 p.m., with an exhibition game against Westmont at Harder Stadium. The Gauchos' first regular season game is Friday, Aug. 25 at home against St. Mary’s

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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