Nov. 21, 2002
The Record: Overall 17-2-1 Big West 9-0-1
NCAA College Cup First Round
Saturday, November 23rd #12 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. San Diego Toreros 7:00 p.m. at UC Santa Barbara's Harder Stadium
Best In History
It is safe to say that the 2002 UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team is if not the best, one of the best teams in school history, winning its second consecutive Big West Conference title and making the NCAA tournament for the first time in the 37-year history of the program. This year's team set numerous school records, starting with their 17 wins at the conclusion of the regular season. Santa Barbara's offensive onslaught, which has been one of the NCAA's top-10 all season,also set the UCSB record with 64 goals, surpassing the previous mark by 11. Currently the fourth-highest scoring team in the nation averaging 3.20 goals per game, UCSB boasts some impressive defensive numbers as well, ranking 17th in the nation with a 0.45% shutout percentage. Going undefeated in conference with a 9-0-1 record, the Gauchos led the Big West in every statistical catagory except saves at the conclusion of the regular season.
This Is My House
I know it has been talked about all season, but UCSB's home field advantage is extremely relevant heading into its NCAA First Round match-up with San Diego. There is no question as to why the Gauchos are 9-0 in Harder Stadium this season. Rather the question has more to do with just how dominant they have been. Santa Barbara has outscored its opponents 36-5, averaging 3.4 more goals a game than the visting squads. Posting six shutouts in nine home matches in 2002, the Gauchos have maintained an impressive 0.56 goals against average. Compiling a 16-2-3 home record over the last two seasons, UCSB has won 12 straight games in Harder Stadium, and are unbeaten in their last 14 having never lost a Big West game at home in the last two years. The average attendence for a game in Harder Stadium this season is 676, with two crowds growing to over 1,000 fans.
On A Roll
Santa Barbara is currently riding a six-game win streak to close out its regular season since its loss to then No. 1 Indiana. In the last six games the Gauchos have tallied 21 goals while giving up just 3 to the opposition and ending the regular season with 3 consecutive shutouts for a total of four blankings in the last six games. UCSB has not allowed a goal in the its last 302:22 minutes, scoring 12 unanswered goals heading into the tournament. All-Big West Second Team goalkeeper Danny Kennedy has been perfect allowing no goals in his last 245:22 minutes of play. Drew McAthy has led the offensive attack the last three matches, netting six goals, just edging out Rob Friend who has five, including four in the last three games. David McGill has done the most damage in the midfield, assisting on seven goals during the current win streak. Memo Arzate is second on the team with six assists in the last six games. But don't be fooled, eight different Gauchos have found the back of the net during this span, five of whom, McAthy, Friend, Arzate, Matt Bly and Gene Deering, have done so on more than one occasion. Of the six games, McAthy, a first team all-conference selection, has scored the game-winner in four.
Forwards Rob Friend and Drew McAthy have established themselves as the greatest 1-2 punch in UCSB history, combining for 35 goals in the 2002 regular season. Friend and McAthy are one of only two combinations in the nation where both players rank in the top-20 in the NCAA in goals per game, Friend 8th and McAthy 20th. With a total of 11 game-winning goals under their belts, the two strikers spent the entire season one (Friend) and two (McAthy) in the Big West in goals, points and shots. And with Friend breaking the 20-year old Gaucho scoring record of 18 goals in a season last week with his 19th of the year, McAthy is next in line needing just two goals to tie the previous record. His 16 goals this season would have been the second-best scoring performance in school history, prior to 2002.
Nine Gauchos Named All-Big West
It was no surprise when the Big West All-Conference Teams were announced that the Gauchos would comprise a large portion of the selections, but to have nine of the starting 11 recognized was a surprise. Senior forward Rob Friend was selected as the conference's offensive player of the year for the second consecutive season, earning first team honors for the second time. Freshman defender Alan Keely was named to the first team as well, garnering the Big West's Freshman of the Year award. Joining Friend and Keely on the first team were Drew McAthy, Memo Arzate and Dan Young. Santa Barbara's Second Team All-Big West selection's were Tony Lochhead, David McGill, and Danny Kennedy, while Matt Kubota was an honorable mention.
Touching On The Toreros
This weekend's NCAA College Cup First Round match with the University of San Diego (14-5-0, 3rd WCC) will be the 12th meeting between the schools, albeit never on this stage. USD, who is making its fifth consecutive, and tenth overall, trip into the tournament, holds a 6-to-5 advantage in the overall series, winning the last six meetings after UCSB won the first five. The Toreros bring to the pitch the Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year from the very strong West Coast Conference in forward Ryan Coiner and midfielder Scott Burcar, respectively. The Gauchos and USD have faced seven mutual opponents this season, UC Riverside, Cal State Fullerton, San Diego State, UC Irvine, Cal State Northridge, Loyola Marymount and St. Mary's. San Diego compiled a 6-1 record against these teams, and Santa Barbara went 9-1-1, with both teams losing to LMU in overtime. Comparing USD and UCSB head-to-head with these teams, the Gauchos have averaged 0.80 more goals per game and a +0.56 scoring margin advantage. Either way you way you look at it Saturday's match should highly contested affair, College Soccer News has said the game, "just might be the best first round match-up in the tourney."
Winner To Face Cal
The winner of Saturday's match will go on to face No. 23 Cal in the second round in Berkeley next Wednesday, November 27th at 1:00 p.m. Cal, who received a first round bye will enter at 13-5-2.