Top-Ranked UCSB Edges Cal State Northridge 2-1, Clinches Big West Championship
Nov. 9, 2004
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -
UC Santa Barbara senior forward Drew McAthy made it a regular season home finale to remember, scoring two goals to lead the top-ranked Gauchos to a 2-1 win over visiting Cal State Northridge on Tuesday night. The victory gives UCSB (16-2-1 overall, 7-2-0 in the Big West) its third Big West Championship in the past four seasons.
The Matadors (9-5-2 overall, 4-2-2 in the Big West) got on the board first on a tremendous individual effort by midfielder Daniel Paladini. The junior took the ball just over the midfield, dribbled it through and around three Santa Barbara defenders and then rocketed a shot from the top of the penalty box, past goalkeeper Dan Kennedy at the 12:29 mark.
McAthy and the Gauchos evened the score in the 26th minute. Senior Jon Apilado took the ball down the left sideline, past a defender. Apilado shoved a pass to junior Jonathan Davis who was on the left side of the penalty box. Davis cracked a perfect cross in to the far post where McAthy headed the ball past Matador goalkeeper Radames Lafaurie.
Cal State Northridge had a chance to take the lead early in the second half. In the 47th minute, sophomore forward Willie Sims took a short cross from Paladini and drove a header into the upper-middle portion of the goal. Kennedy, who came from out nowhere, leaped and poked the ball over the crossbar.
The Gauchos didn't waste time breaking the 1-1 tie. Less than four minutes after Kennedy's save, UCSB was awarded a corner kick. Senior Tony Lochhead took the corner and sent a low bouncer through the goal box. Junior Ivan Beccerra redirected the cross and McAthy stormed in and drove a right-footed shot past Lafaurie for the game-winner. The goal was his 15th of the season, tying him with Sims for tops in the Big West, and it was the 50th of his career, a school record. In addition, McAthy has 13 career assists for a school-record 113 points.
The win is UCSB's fifth straight since it lost back-to-back games in mid-October. In fact, the Gauchos first loss of the season, when they were ranked number one earlier in the season, came at Cal State Northridge on October 16, 3-1. The Matadors won the 2003 Big West title and are the only other team to win a league crown in the last four seasons. Santa Barbara was playing the match minus a pair of starters. The Gauchos were without starting defender Andy Iro and starting forward Neil Jones, both serving one-game suspensions for yellow card accumulation.
UCSB plays its final regular season match on Friday night when it travels to UC Irvine for a 7:00 p.m. match at Anteater Stadium.