It was a memorable season for the UCSB men’s soccer team both on and off the field.
The Gauchos not only advanced to the program’s first quarterfinal appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2006, but nine players on the team were honored by the Big West Conference for their recent academic achievements.
The conference announced a record 235 student-athletes who were selected to the 2019 Fall All-Academic Team.
UCSB had 33 student-athletes selected, which tied it with Cal Poly for the most in the Big West across the five fall sports.
The nine players on the men’s soccer team were the most at UCSB. Women’s volleyball and women’s cross country were second with seven student-athletes each, followed by women’s soccer with six, and men’s cross country with four.
“I’m very proud of the effort that our players put in to maintain their grades and to excel in the classroom, as well as excelling on the soccer field at the same time,” Gaucho men’s soccer coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “It was challenging for everybody because we, as an unseeded team, ended up basically being on the road for three weeks during the playoff run.
“It was a challenge for all of our players to both be focused on their academics while at the same time trying to win soccer games.”
To earn Big West All-Academic status, students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average, complete one full academic year at the institution prior to the season for which the award is being given, and compete in at least 50% of the team’s contests.
What made it especially difficult for the nine players on the men’s soccer team was the long playoff run that made studying on the road a must.
“The players are there to earn their degrees, and they understand that,” Vom Steeg said, “but at the same time, our season is very compact, it’s very condensed, and unfortunately the timing of the season is such that the biggest games of your entire life in terms of your soccer career happen right at the conclusion of the fall quarter.”
Among the nine men’s soccer players who earned All-Academic recognition from the conference, three — Kaya Fabretti, Derek Kryzda and Ignacio Tellechea — are Economics majors and one, Mateo Restrepo Mejia, is a Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology major.
Vom Steeg went on to say it wouldn’t have been possible for his players to succeed at academics and soccer if it weren’t for the help of others.
“I do have to thank the athletic administration and our counselors for their support,” Vom Steeg said. “It goes without saying that without the full support of academic counselors and support staff at UCSB in the athletic department, our players wouldn’t have succeeded. You need everybody involved to navigate how to make up for missed classes and take exams.
“That requires assistance and help, and we had great support from our academic support staff and our athletic department.”
Among the seven women’s volleyball student-athletes honored, Rowan Ennis is a Biology major; Zoe Fleck is studying Linguistics and Olivia Lovenberg is majoring in Psychological & Brain Sciences.
The seven women’s cross country student-athletes honored include Andrea Anez, Marisa Rodriguez and Sienna Serrao, who are all Biology majors. Sarah MacGregor is studying Environmental Science. Emma Overell is a Political Science/Middle Eastern Studies major. Kelly Bishop is majoring in Mathematical Science/Psychological & Brain Sciences and Madison Meade is a Psychological & Brain Sciences major.