The road to the 2010 College Cup begins Thursday (Nov. 18) with the first round of the NCAA men’s soccer tournament. UCSB will launch its ninth consecutive appearance in the tournament against Denver. Game time is 7 p.m. at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium.

Looking over the teams in the Gauchos’ corner of the playoff bracket, ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman called it “the Group of Death.” It includes third-seeded Akron, which was ranked No. 1 most of the year; former national champions Indiana and Connecticut; and Pac-10 champion Cal. “There are four or five teams there that could win the championship,” Twellman said. He listed UCSB, the 2006 national champion, as one of the tournament’s “sleeper teams” along with Notre Dame, William & Mary, and Virginia.

If the Gauchos take care of Denver, they will travel to face Cal, the sixth seed, in the second round, Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Connecticut and Akron loom as potential opponents on the following weekends. Besides Akron, the other top-seeded teams favored to play in the College Cup at UCSB December 10-12 are No. 1, Louisville; No. 2, Maryland; and No. 4, North Carolina.

The Gauchos (13-4-3 overall) have gone 10-1-1 in their last 12 games. They finished second in the Big West regular season standings but won the conference tournament last weekend. Coach Tim Vom Steeg said he was not surprised that they were left out of the top 16 seeds because other Big West teams did not make a strong impression outside the conference. The Gauchos are the league’s only representative in the NCAAs. They went 2-1-1 against tournament invitees, including victories over UCLA and Duke.

Denver’s Pioneers (9-6-4) are the regular-season champions of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Sam Garza, UCSB’s sophomore forward who has scored a team-leading nine goals, is a transfer from Denver.

“I won’t say I’m nervous, but there’s a little bit of excitement, because if you lose one game, you’re out,” UCSB midfielder Machael David said. “We all play with the same ball, we’re all going to come down 11 on 11, it doesn’t matter if you’re number one or number 15. It’s going to be a tough road, but I think we can get through.”

Tickets to Thursday’s game ($10 adults, $5 students and youth) can be purchased online (, by phone (893-UCSB) or at the ticket office in the UCSB Intercollegiate Athletics Building. There are free parking spaces outside the building next to Robertson Gym.

Dos Pueblos High earned a home game in the first round of the CIF Western Division football playoffs by winning its first Channel League championship since 1979. A 40-yard field goal by Nicolai Bornand boosted the Chargers to a 30-27 victory over Ventura in the showdown for the title. They will play Pacific View League runner-up Camarillo at 7:30 p.m., Friday. In other playoff openers, Carpinteria (Northwest Division) travels to Cantwell in Montebello and Bishop Diego (East Valley Division) visits Sierra Canyon in Granada Hills. Laguna Blanca moved into the second round of eight-man football playoffs and will play at their Hope Ranch field Saturday afternoon.

The Dos Pueblos boys water polo team is also making history by reaching the CIF Division 1 semifinals for the first time since 1978. The Chargers will face Mater Dei in Irvine on Wednesday night. Another team alive in the playoffs is Santa Barbara High girls tennis. The Dons host El Dorado at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 16

High school girls tennis — CIF quarterfinals: El Dorado at Santa Barbara, 1:30 p.m.

Wednesday, November 17

High school boys water polo — CIF semifinals: Dos Pueblos vs. Mater Dei at Irvine’s William Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center, 7 p.m.

Thursday, November 18

College women’s basketball — Portland State at UCSB, 1 p.m.; San Diego Mesa at SBCC, 7 p.m.

Friday, November 19

College women’s basketball — MTXE Tournament at SBCC, 3-7 p.m.

High school football — CIF playoffs, first round: Camarillo at Dos Pueblos, 7:30 p.m.; Carpinteria at Cantwell, 7:30 p.m.; Bishop Diego at Sierra Canyon, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 20

College men’s water polo — Pepperdine at UCSB, 1 p.m.

High school football (8 man) — CIF playoffs, second round: Santa Clarita Christian at Laguna Blanca, 1 p.m.; Cate at Excelsior Education Center (Victorville), 5 p.m.

College women’s basketball — Idaho at UCSB, 2 p.m.; MTXE Tournament at SBCC, 3-7 p.m.

High school boys water polo — CIF Division 1 final at Irvine’s William Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center, 6:30 p.m.

College men’s basketball — Fresno State at UCSB, 7 p.m.; CSU San Bernardino at Westmont, 7 p.m.

Monday, November 22

Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon, Harry’s Plaza Café, 12 p.m.

College women’s basketball — Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) at Westmont, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, November 23

College women’s basketball — Bakersfield at SBCC, 3 p.m.

College women’s basketball – Southern Cal Regional, first round: TBA at SBCC, 7 p.m.

Friday, November 26

College men’s basketball — SBCC vs. Fullerton at Oxnard, 1 p.m.; Westmont vs. CSU Stanislaus at Atherton, 2 p.m.

High school football — CIF playoffs, second round.

Saturday, November 27

College men’s basketball — Westmont vs. College of Idaho at Atherton, 2 p.m.; UCSB at Portland, 7 p.m.; SBCC at Oxnard Condor Classic.

Sunday, November 28

College women’s basketball — Northern Colorado at UCSB, 2 p.m.

College men’s basketball — SBCC at Oxnard Condor Classic.

College men’s soccer — NCAA tournament, third round.


Saturday, November 20 – UCSB Recreation Turkey Trot, 5K-10K walk/run, UCen lawn, 8:30 a.m.

Thursday, November 25 – Thanksgiving 4 Miler, Magnolia Shopping Center, 9 a.m.

Saturday, November 27 – Red Rock 40-Mile Trail Run, Los Padres National Forest Red Rock day use area, 6 a.m.


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