Nov. 30, 2003
JAMAICA, N.Y. -
In their first ever Sweet 16 appearance in NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championships, the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team had its remarkable season come to an end with a 3-2 double-overtime loss as St. Johns. The Gauchos, who end their year at 16-5-1, took and early lead and where then forced to come from behind before ultimately losing the match with 4:02 in the second sudden-victory overtime period.
UCSB got on the board in the seventh minute of action at Belson Stadium, when senior midfielder David McGill slipped through a lead pass to senior forward Neil Jones from the right side. Jones took a couple of touches on the ball and hit a low-liner across the frame of the net and past Red Storm goalkeeper Bill Gaudette, just inside the left goalpost for the first goal of the match.
The Gauchos continued to dictate the pace and intensity of match for the next 25-30 minutes until the Red Storm's Ryan Kelly tied it up in the 40th minute when he one-timed a Chris Leidner cross that beat UCSB keeper Danny Kennedy top shelf and to his left. Kennedy finished the match with five saves, in addition to his superb play coming off of his line.
It appeared as if the Gauchos for going to enter halftime with a 2-1 lead, when senior midfielder Matt Kubota burried a Tony Lochhead corner kick that had bounced out to the top of the box. Kubota's goal however was disallowed due to a situtation that occured in the timekeeping in the match. In a miscommunication between the officials and the timekeeper, when play was resumed after the referee stopped the clock with three seconds remaining, Kubota netted his shot before time had expired, or was signalled to have expired.
St. John's, capitalizing on their momentum left over from the first period, scored their go ahead goal just three minutes into the second half when the Storm's Simone Salinno netted his 13th goal of the season.
Still continuing to apply pressure to SJU, UCSB's Drew McAthy knotted the score at 2-2 in the 73rd minute, relighting the Gauchos' hopes at advancing to the elite eight. McAthy's team and Big West leading 14th goal of the season was the result of another outstanding play on the right side by McGill. After collecting a loose ball from inside the Red Storm's goal box, McGill fired in a cross to the back post where McAthy was waiting. McAthy sliced throught the SJU defense and headed in the game-tying goal into the lower-left corner.
Both teams battled for the remaining 15 minutes of regulation time, sending the match into overtime in the cold and windy conditions. UCSB and St. John's both had opportunities in the first overtime period, but SJU managed to connect first with just over four minutes until penalty kicks would have had to have been used to decide the outcome of the match. It was the Red Storm's Ryan Kelly once again who found the back of the net for SJU, finishing off a Brian Morris cross into the lower left corner for the golden goal and a berth into the Elite Eight.
The loss ended the one of the Gauchos' best seasons ever at 16-5-1, matching the second most wins ever by a squad at UCSB. The match marked the end of the collegiate careers of four-year letterwinners Matt Kubota, Darren Doi, and Gene Deering, as well as transfers David McGill and Memo Arzate, quite possibly one of the deadliest midfield duos NCAA men's soccer has ever seen.