Luncheon Crowd full of playoff passion

UCSB men's soccer coach Tim Vom Steeg

It was the best of both worlds at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon, as many of the teams represented were either in postseason mode or experiencing the excitement of a new season.

Despite hosting an NCAA Selection Show viewing party at Harder Stadium barely an hour later, UCSB head soccer coach Tim Vom Steeg paid a visit and spoke about a special milestone.

“Because of the body of work this year, we will be in our 10th consecutive NCAA Tournament, which is most lucky,” Vom Steeg said.

As Vom Steeg predicted, the Gauchos received a first-round bye and play on Sunday in the second round at 5 p.m. in Harder Stadium. A victory would put UCSB into the NCAA quarterfinals next week.

Before the Gauchos get to play, three local schools will engage in CIF playoff football games. Bishop Diego (9-1) and Carpinteria (7-3) host games on Friday night while Dos Pueblos (3-7) has to travel to the Western Division’s second seed in Arroyo Grande (9-1).

“They are big and they are fast,” said Chargers head coach Jeff Uyesaka, who remembers the last time Dos Pueblos played A.G. in 2001.

“They were the biggest football team I’ve seen in person.”

Uyesaka brought lineman Isaac Escobar and Zach Briones. From Bishop Diego’s football team, Male Athlete of the Week Brandon Gonzalez, junior Justin Brosnan, and Troy Skinner were present.

The Cardinals are coming off a 39-20 triumph in the Little Big Game in which Gonzalez rushed for 236 yards.

“We’re very proud of what’s the best record in Bishop’s history at the end of the regular season at 9-1,” said Bishop assitant Ralph Molina.

On the other side of the decision, Carpinteria head coach Ben Hallock introduced his two kickers Cristian Arambula and Omar Vasquez and credited the Cardinals for their victory.

“They did a great job of making some plays down the stretch,” Hallock said. “Brandon Gonzalez did a really fine job. In the second half, he came out and made some very determined runs. His body language, everything about him, said he was ready to take over that game.”

The UCSB men’s basketball team is expected to have another great year with Orlando Johnson leading the way. The Gauchos have made the NCAA Tournament in March two years running now.

James Nunnally led the Gauchos in scoring in their first game – a 74-48 win against Chapman.

“(James) stayed here all summer and really improved his game,” said UCSB assistant coach David Campbell. “We think we have two of the better players in the West.”

The bad news for the Gauchos is that freshman John Green, who scored 17 points in UCSB’s exhibition game, broke his foot and is out for the year.

UCSB (1-0) hosts Santa Clara on Tuesday and Westmont on Friday.

“They are the finest UCSB team since I’ve been here in 19 years as Westmont head coach,” said Warriors coach John Moore.

Moore’s Warriors are off to a 2-1 start. Freshman Jared Wilson accompanied Moore, who riffed on the recent Carpinteria-Bishop Diego football game.

“We’re having the ‘Little Big Game’ on Friday night. We’re the little guys and they’re the big guys.”

Westmont’s women’s soccer team qaulified for the NAIA Tournament. The Warriors, who travel to CSU San Marcos for the first round on Saturday, just had four players named to the All-GSAC Team.

“We really appreciate that recognition but we also know it takes 11 players on the field and 23 in training to get the job done,” Kiely said. “We look forward to Saturday and that’s what we trained for and that’s our only focus.”

The thrill of playoff competition has already touched Dos Pueblos’ girls volleyball team. The Chargers won two CIF matches last week over Redondo Union and San Clemente, featuring Athlete of the Week honorable mention Amanda Moriarty.

Chargers head coach Todd Garrett brought players Emma Craine and Sammi Rhine from his still-alive CIF semifinal team. Dos Pueblos has to travel to Los Alamitos on Tuesday for a shot at Saturday’s CIF Championship.

“We haven’t played our best volleyball and we’re going to need to. I’m excited to see that,” Garrett said.

Santa Barbara City College’s soccer program is having a historical season. For the first time ever, the men’s and women’s team are league champions in the same season. The Vaqueros women’s volleyball team, represented at the luncheon by assistant coach Armen Zakarian and players Bianca Castro and Emily Banas, have won 10-of-11 and themselves are looking forward to the postseason.

There was also the first sighting of the year for winter prep sports teams, as Carpinteria High’s soccer teams attended. Boys head coach Daniel Torres brought Cameron Wagner and Mohammed Mehai, and girls coach Lucy Carleton invited Shirley Benitez, Catherine Torres, and Alexa Benitez.

Paul Johnson is the Special Olympics Athlete of the Month. Johnson’s favorite sports are basketball and bowling. His high score is 150 and his coach Amanda named him the captain of the team. The Wisconsin native was sporting a Bulls tie and thanked the crowd after receiving the award.

Story by Presidio Sports

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