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Defending men's national champ UCSB picked to win Big West
August 16th, 2007 9AM



UC Santa Barbara was chosen to win the Big West men's championship in the 2007 preseason coaches poll. The Gauchos, who won their first NCAA Division I national championship in 2006 and have won four of the last six Big West titles, led the way with six first-place votes and a total of 48 points.

The Gauchos return seven starters and 15 letterwinners from the squad that won 11 of its final 12 matches a year ago. Headlining the returnees is the back-to-back Big West Defensive Player of the Year in senior Andy Iro. Fellow All-American Eric Avila also returns for his junior year with the Gauchos after amassing a team-high eight goals to go with five assists in 2006, while junior Nick Perera returns after a breakout sophomore campaign that culminated in the College Cup Most Outstanding Offensive Player award.

The Gauchos coaching staff has continued to find success in securing top-notch talent. Among the newcomers are University of San Diego transfer Ciaran O'Brien, the most sought after transfer player in the nation, and New Zealand U-20 National Team members Michael Boxall and Sam Jenkins.

Cal State Northridge, the only other school to capture the conference title since 2000, received one first-place vote and 43 points to finish second behind the Gauchos. Cal State Fullerton was picked to finish third after amassing 26 points, while UC Irvine, Cal Poly, first-year member UC Davis and UC Riverside round out the poll.
Leading the returnees for CSUN is two-time first-team All-Big West honoree Sean Franklin and second-team All-Big West selection Sunghyun Kim, the top scorer for the Matadors last season with 14 points. Cal State Northridge also has the services of a top-flight goalkeeper in junior Kevin Guppy (0.90 GAA).

Cal State Fullerton head coach Bob Ammann welcomes back 2006 Big West Freshman of the Year Michael Farfan.

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