Junior attacker Rodney Michael of the UC Santa Barbara men’s soccer team earned a spot on Top Drawer Soccer’s All-America Second Team, freshman attacking midfielder Finn Ballard McBride was named to the freshman All-American team, and senior wingback Noah Billingsley completed his All-American trifecta after selections to the Top Drawer Soccer and College Soccer News teams to complement his spot on the United Soccer Coaches list.
With their selections, Michael and Ballard McBride become the 17th and 18th All-Americans in program history.
Michael makes his debut as an All-American/ This junior also made it to his third Big West All-Conference First Team in his career, making the list as the only three-time honoree. Michael was held without a goal or an assist in UCSB’s first six matches of the season, but it was just a matter of time before the Freetown, Sierra Leone forward would get rolling as he roared back with an eight-game point streak, recording four goals and six assists between Sept. 22 and Oct. 16. Since his return from injury in Santa Barbara’s final regular season match at Cal Poly, he put up an assist in that match and added a three-point performance with a goal and an assist against CSUN in the Big West Tournament Semifinal on Nov. 9. He again came up big for UCSB in the NCAA Tournament, scoring against Cal in UCSB’s 3-1 win in the first round, and recording a brace to help lead the Gauchos past 12th-seeded Saint Mary’s in a 4-0 second round drubbing.
Ballard McBride is now UCSB’s fourth-ever player to make it onto a freshman All-America list after Top Drawer Soccer listed him on its team. The Big West Conference recognized the newcomer as its freshman of the year, UCSB’s ninth in the past 11 seasons, joining a long list that began with Michael Davis in 2009 and included Rodney Michael in 2017 and Ben Roach in 2018. The Australian tied for the Big West lead in goals with nine, seeing just under half of his 20 shots reach the back of the net. He ranked second in the conference with 20 points after tacking on two assists to his goal tally. Six of his nine goals came against Big West opponents, two of which were game-winners, and he also scored against then-No. 1 Stanford on Sept. 28.
Billingsley was selected to the College Soccer News second team and Top Drawer Soccer third team. Earlier in the offseason, he was recognized as a third team All-American by United Soccer Coaches, while making the United Soccer Coaches All-Far West Region First Team, the Big West Defensive Player of the Year award, and a spot on the All-Big West First Team. The senior defender led a stout Gaucho defense that posted 12 shutouts, playing in nine of them after missing games due to international duty with New Zealand U-23 at the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) U-23 Championship in Fiji. UCSB gave up just 22 goals in 24 games for a 0.87 goals against average – good for second in the Big West. Billingsley also demonstrated a knack for offense with a goal and six assists for eight points. He scored the game-winning goal in UCSB’s 4-0 victory over Saint Mary’s in the NCAA Tournament Second Round and had three assists in an Oct. 12 victory over Cal State Fullerton – the first triple-assist performance by a Gaucho since Memo Arzate in 2003.