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UCSB Picked Second in Big West Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Poll

UCSB was edged out by Cal State Fullerton for the No. 1 spot in the Big West men’s soccer coaches' preseason poll.

Fullerton, which returns nine starters off last year's team that won the Big West Tournament, earned four first-place votes and 57 points. UCSB received three first-place votes and 55 points.

Cal State Northridge came in third place with 47 points, while UC Davis was fourth and nabbed the lone remaining first-place vote and a total of 40 points.  Rounding out the poll was UC Irvine in fifth place with 30 points, Sacramento State sixth (23), UC Riverside seventh (21) and Cal Poly eighth (15).

After dividing the conference into North and South divisions the last six years, the teams will compete in a single eight-team division.

UCSB had a four-year run of North Division titles snapped last year and missed making the NCAA Tournament. The Gauchos return several key players and bolstered their squad with some quality transfers. The top returnees include forward Rodney Michael, the 2017 Big West Freshman of the Year and All-Big West First-Team selection, forwards Ignacio Tellechea and Noah Billingsley and Big West All-Freshman Team goalkeeper Alan Carrillo.

The Gauchos strengthened their defense with the addition of transfers Faouzi Taieb (St. Francis Brooklyn) and Carson Vom Steeg (Stanford).  Taieb is one of 32 members on the 2018 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, a prestigious award bestowed upon the nation’s most outstanding player.  Carson Vom Steeg is the son of UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg. He played on last year’s NCAA championship squad at Stanford.

Cal State Fullerton coach George Kuntz welcomes back first-team all-conference returnees Ross McPhie and Samuel Goni.  McPhie, the 2017 Big West Co-Midfielder of the Year, notched seven goals and was an All-Far West Region honoree.  Goni led the club with nine goals and ranked fifth in the Big West with 19 points overall.  The Titans also return goalkeeper Paul-Andre Guerin, the reigning Big West Tournament MVP.

The preseason all-conference team is headlined by three UC Davis representatives in Roy Boateng, Nabi Kibunguchy and Adam Mickelson. The other players on the squad include McPhie and Goni of Fullerton, UCSB's Michael and Billingsley, UC Irvine's Ivan Canales and Daniel Crisostomo, CSUN’s Andrew Rizeq and Sacramento State's Dominic Scotti.

2018 Preseason Coaches Poll

No.    School                            Pts.
1.      Cal State Fullerton (4)     57
2.      UC Santa Barbara (3)      55
3.      CSUN                              47
4.      UC Davis (1)                   40
5.      UC Irvine                        30
6.      Sacramento State             23
7.      UC Riverside                   21
8.      Cal Poly                           15

( ) First-place votes

2018 Preseason All-Conference Team

Name                           School                          Pos.      Year
Noah Billingsley          UC Santa Barbara       F            Junior
Roy Boateng                UC Davis                     D           Senior
Ivan Canales                UC Irvine                     MF        Senior
Daniel Crisostomo       UC Irvine                    MF        Senior
Samuel Goni                Cal State Fullerton      F            Senior
Nabi Kibunguchy        UC Davis                    D            Sophomore
Ross McPhie               Cal State Fullerton      MF         Senior
Rodney Michael          UC Santa Barbara       F            Sophomore
Adam Mickelson         UC Davis                    F            Junior
Andrew Rizeq              CSUN                        MF         Senior
Dominic Scotti             Sacramento State       MF         Senior


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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