Tenth-Ranked and Unbeaten Gauchos Host Crosstown Rival Westmont on Saturday
Sept. 18, 2003
Saturday, September 20, 2003 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara vs. Westmont College
at UCSB's Harder Stadium
It seems to be a the norm for UC Santa Barbara to open the season on an undefeated streak. Opening last season with a 8-0-0 start, the second best in school history, this year's squad remains undefeated through it first five matches at 4-0-1. Although the Gauchos' offense in 2003 is not putting up as big of numbers to start year as they did in 2002, averaging 2.00 goals per game as opposed to last years 4.00 over the course of their undefeated start, this year's defense is averaging half as many goals against per game (0.60) as its counterpart in '02 (1.25). In fact, UCSB's 4-0-1 mark stands as the third best start in school history, and currently ties Santa Barbara for 12th in the nation with a .900 win percentage. And the Gauchos' current streak of four consecutive wins is two victories shy of the school fifth longest winning streak, set in 1990.
Welcome to Harder Stadium
It was another one up, another one down when Michigan State came to town for UCSB's home opener last Friday where the Gauchos ran their home win streak to 11 matches with a 2-1 victory. Junior striker Drew McAthy netted both goals for Santa Barbara to give him six in three consecutive matches, including all three game-winners. On McAthy's first goal, Memo Arzate and David McGill combined on the right side to send a cross into the back post that McAthy headed in. On that particular goal all three players made the move to the top of the conference charts, McAthy with his Big West leading fifth goal, and Arzate and McGill with their conference leading fourth assists each. After a controversial Spartan goal a few minutes later to knot the score at one all, senior forward Neil Jones was taken down inside the MSU box in the 86th minute, setting up McAthy for the game-deciding penalty kick. The win was the Gauchos' second in as many tries over Michgan State.
Extending One then Breaking Another
Two days after extending their own home unbeaten streak to fifteen games, UCSB travelled to San Diego in a rematch of last year's NCAA Tournament First Round, snapping USD's own home unbeaten streak at twelve games. The teams battled through a scoreless regulation with the Toreros outshooting the Gauchos 16-8. Junior goalkeeper Dan Kennedy kept UCSB in the game making seven saves on the match and Neil Jones gave Santa Barbara the win when he finished off a Matt Kubota cross in the eighth minute of overtime. Kubota had beat his defender to the touch line and chipped a shot just over the USD keeper, leaving Jones with an open net. The goal was Jones' third on the year and the assist was Kubota's first.
An Good Ol' Fashioned Rivalry
Saturday's annual Bryant & Sons Cup between UC Santa Barbara and Westmont College will be the 41st meeting between the crosstown rivals, making the series the second longest in UCSB history. The series with Cal Poly extends to 43 games. Westmont holds the all-time advantage at 23-13-4, but UCSB has held the advantage as of late, winning three of the last four while under the direction of Tim Vom Steeg. Currently 3-2 on the season, the Warrriors are led by junior midfielder Ricardo Alcaraz with six points off of one goal and four assists. Alcaraz is the older brother of UCSB freshman forward Johnny Alcaraz who wears number 17, the same number Ricardo wears. Westmont currently has four different players with two goals apiece, and is sporting a 1.58 team GAA.
Just saying that junior goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, a two-time all-conference honoree, made seven saves in the Gauchos 1-0 win at USD does not do him justice. Named this week's Big West player of the week for his performance, Kennedy made two huge diving saves near the end of regulation and another in overtime against a team that hadn't lost at home in twelve games. The conplete game shutout was Kennedy's second of season and the 15th of his career, tying him for fourth all-time in Big West history. Going into extra time for the second time this season, Kennedy has gone undefeated in six of eight overtime matches in his career. Currently 27th in the nation with a 0.56 goals against average, he has played 44 matches between the pipes, just one short of fourth all-time at UCSB and the most ever by any goalkeeper in three seasons, and he is just five games into his third. Starting the season with a 0.98 career goals agaisnt average, he has now lowered it to 0.93, remaining atop UCSB's top ten as well as in fourth in the conference books.
This week College Soccer News identified who they felt where the twelve deadliest forward duos in the nation, and on that list is the Gauchos' tandem of senior Neil Jones and junior Drew McAthy. McAthy, who is tied for sixth in the nation and leading the Big West averaging 1.20 goals per game, has netted six goals to pace the UCSB attack. And Jones, who netted the game-winner at USD is second the team and tied for fifth in the conference with three goals, has proven to be an exceptionally effective up top, dishing off for two assists as well. Also identified in the mix by CSN was senior forward Gene Deering who gives the Gauchos a intense scrappy player with a nac for finding the back of the net. McAthy and Jones both sit in the Big West's Top Five in both goals and points and have accounted for nine of UCSB's ten goals.
As deadly as the Gauchos up top, it is their midfield who has been making it happen by giving the forwards good looks. Both amongst the top assist men in the nation, seniors David McGill and Memo Arzate seem to create goals out of nothing. Ending last year amongst the top ten in assists in the nation, McGill is currently tied for sixth averaging 1.00 helpings per game, and Arzate, who has been heavily marked all season long is tied for 27th with 0.80 assists per game. Both are tied for the Big West lead with four assists apiece, twice as many as any other player in the conference.