Tenth-Ranked Gauchos Take Unbeaten Record Into Big West Conference Opener Against Cal Poly
Sept. 23, 2003
Wednesday, September 24, 2003 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Cal Poly Mustangs
at UCSB's Harder Stadium
Sunday, September 28, 2003 at 2:30 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Sacramento State Hornets
at Sacramento State's Hornet Field
With its 2-0 win over crosstown rival Westmont College this past weekend UC Santa Barbara ran its home winning streak to 16 games. Harder Stadium has been such difficult place to play in for opposing teams in recent years, that it is quickly becoming what the Thunderdome was back in the late 80's and early 90's. With their current mark, the Gauchos need just more straight wins at home and their streak will tie as the 15th longest such streak in NCAA men's soccer history, now in its 44th season.
As dominant as UCSB has been at home in recent years, it has been just as dominant in conference play since the Big West reinstated men's soccer in 2001. Entering Wednesday's Big West opener againt Cal Poly, Santa Barbara is riding a ten match home conference win streak, and has yet to lose a home conference match (10-0) in the current era of Big West men's soccer.
Keepers of the Cup
Westmont won't be needing any Pledge to dust off their trophy mantle thanks to UCSB senior forward Neil Jones. With the Gauchos' 2-0 win against the Warriors on Saturday night they retained the Bryant and Sons Cup for the third straight year. The match remained knotted at 0-0 for the first 60 minutes, thanks to some superb goalkeeping and defensive play on both ends of the field, before senior midfielder Matt Kubota found Jones with a perfect cross into the box. Slicing through the Westmont defense, Jones headed the ball across his body and into the lower right portion of the net for his second game-winning goal in as many games, and his fourth goal of the season. The Gauchos' insurance was set up when senior midfielder David McGill was tackled hard inside the penalty box, giving way to fellow senior Memo Arzate's second PK of the season.
Climbing the Charts
Six matches into his junior season, goalkeeper Dan Kennedy has now claimed sole possession of fourth all-time in BigWest history 16th career complete game shutouts. Currently tied for third in the UCSB books, he needs two more to move into a tie for third in the conference books. Kennedy's current goals against average of 0.47 is 14th best in the nation, and UCSB's three total goals allowed ties as the third lowest in Division I.
The Title Defense Begins
Wednesday's match in Harder Stadium with Cal Poly extends UCSB's longest series to its 44th match. The Gauchos have history in their favor, owning the overall series at 29-12-2 having won six out of the last seven meetings, including each of the last four. Currently 2-2-1 on the year, the Mustangs have not won in Harder since 1998 when they downed the Gauchos 4-2, since then Santa Barbara has gone 3-0 posting two shutouts with a combined score of 8-1. Poly has scored just five goals on the year, averaging 1.00 per game, however they have allowed just five goals on the year as well. Danny Calderon, with three goals, is the only player with multiple goals, Mark Jones and Kyle Matthews have each tallied one. Greg Blevins has played every minute in goal for the Mustangs, posting a 0.95 goals against average, with a .792 save percentage.
Feeling The Sting
After going 1-3 to open the series with Sacramento State, UCSB has gone undefeated in the last four meetings with a record of 3-0-1, and is riding a three-game win streak in the series. With a combined score of 12-1 in the three matches with Tim Vom Steeg at the helm, the Gauchos travel to Sacramento for a Sunday match hoping to continue their success. In fact UCSB has posted two consecutive shutouts against the Hornets, both in Harder Stadium, last giving up a goal to them in 1999 in Sacramento. Sacramento State has struggled to a 2-4-1 record in 2003 having scored just four goals in seven matches, each has been scored by a different player. In between the pipes, the Hornets are sporting a respectable 1.52 goals against average, with two shutouts.
Bring It On
Having given up just three goals in six matches, there are only five teams in all of Division I soccer who have played as many matches as the Gauchos, who have given up less goals than UCSB. Currently 11th in the nation with a 0.47 goals against average, Santa Barbara has allowed just one goal in its last 316:33 minutes played, translated that would be a 0.28 goals against average. In fact, UCSB's defense has not allowed a goal in the past 215:21 minutes of play. Thanks in large part to the stellar play of Dan Kennedy, the Gauchos' defenders have gotten into the mix. True freshman Greg Curry made a diving save, heading away a sure goal against Westmont, while the play of UCSB's defensive leader Tony Lochhead, along with Jon Apilado, Pat Scott, and Matt Kubota has stymied opposing offenses. The Gauchos have held opponents to a measly 11.3 shots per game with a shot percentage of just .044.