UC SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Big West released its 2023 Preseason Men's Soccer Coaches' Poll and Team on Thursday, with UC Santa Barbara picked to finish first in the conference this season. Gauchos Leroy Zeller, Alexis Ledoux and Lucas Gonzalez were all named to the Preseason Coaches' Team.
This is UC Santa Barbara's fourth season atop the Coaches' Poll, narrowly edging out defending champs UC Riverside to earn the top spot, earning 72 points to the Highlanders' 69. Santa Barbara, Riverside, CSUN and UC Irvine each received at least one first-place vote, with ten points covering the top four teams in the poll.
Zeller, Ledoux and Gonzalez each make their first appearance on the conference's Preseason Team, as the Gauchos are the only team with a trio of names on this year's list.
Zeller earned Goalkeeper of the Year honors from the conference last season and was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-Far West Region Second Team. The Zülpich, Germany native led The Big West in shutouts for a second straight season in 2022 and ranked second in the conference with a .778 save percentage and .989 goals-against average. Earlier this month, United Soccer Coaches named him one of six Goalkeepers to Watch in 2023.
Ledoux is set for his second season as a Gaucho after a sophomore campaign in which he started 14 matches and finished fifth on the team in points. The Frenchman picked a great moment to score his first goal in Blue and Gold, finding the back of the net to give Santa Barbara an early lead over Cal Poly. Ledoux will look to continue that form as he is set to play a key role in the Gauchos' attack this season.
Gonzalez will serve as UC Santa Barbara's captain this season, having started the most games of any returning outfield player last year. In his 17 starts, the Long Beach native scored twice and provided six assists, the third-most in the conference. Four of those assists came in four consecutive games, a streak the Gauchos would love him to recreate in 2023. Gonzalez was named to the All-Big West Second Team for his efforts in 2022.
The Gauchos are set to play their final preseason exhibition on Saturday, August 19 as they take on Westmont for the 2023 Community Shield at 7 p.m. at Harder Stadium. UC Santa Barbara will open the regular season at home on August 25 against Oral Roberts and begin conference play in La Jolla on September 27 against UC San Diego.
(Article courtesy of UCSB Athletics).