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