December 21, 2009

Men's Soccer All-Decade Team Selected

Dec. 21, 2009

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

Dan Kennedy, 2001-04


Tony Lochhead, 2001-04


Greg Curry, 2003-07


Andy Iro, 2004-07


Chris Pontius, 2005-08


Memo Arzate, 2002-03


Eric Avila, 2005-07


Nate Boyden, 2001-05


Bryan Byrne, 2003-06


David McGill, 2002-03


Rob Friend, 2001-02


Neil Jones, 2001-04


Drew McAthy, 2001-04


The conclusion of the first decade of the new millennium is just days away and to commemorate it, the UC Santa Barbara Athletics Department will take a look back and honor the athletes who have made the biggest impact on their respective teams over the past 10 years.

It has been a decade that saw a national championship, numerous Big West titles, All-Americans, Players of the Year, record-setting performances and far more victories than defeats.

In a retrospective look, the team sports at UCSB will release the All-Decade Teams - compiling the players who helped make those teams successful from 2000-09.

Sure, there are certain criteria for selecting the starting lineups of these teams. To be considered for the All-Decade Team in his or her sport, a student-athlete must have played the majority of their contests in the past 10 years; student-athletes who spent more time at UCSB to accomplish greater things typically will be given the edge over those who either left early or started late, but it won't rule out transfer students or those who departed for professional careers; while the players selected may have won more awards or had better statistics, the All-Decade Teams don't go solely by what happens between the lines or shows up in the box scores - intangibles play a large role; the idea of the All-Decade Team is to make the best starting lineup of the players who competed for UCSB from 2000-09. Part four of this 10-part series, which is being released over the final two weeks of 2009, is the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team.

The past 10 years, without a doubt, has proved to be the best decade in UCSB soccer history. The Gauchos have risen to national prominence, making eight consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and advancing to two College Cup finals. In 2006, the men's soccer team brought home the NCAA crown, ending a 26-year national championship drought on the UCSB campus.

This decade, the Gaucho men's soccer program has ignited frenzy among UCSB students, alumni and members of the Santa Barbara community. Harder Stadium has become the place to be on game nights, and UCSB has led the NCAA in attendance each of the last three seasons and has hosted several of the most highly attended collegiate soccer matches in NCAA history. It is only fitting that after such a phenomenal 10 years that UCSB will kick-off the next decade by hosting the 2010 College Cup December 10-12 at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium.

With so much success in the past 10 years, the men's soccer All-Decade Team is possibly one of the hardest to compile. Since 2000, UCSB has won 136 games and has posted a winning percentage of .769. Eleven players have earned 25 All-American honors, 23 players have been named to Far West All-Region Teams and 74 players have earned All-Big West accolades.

Many talented players have played in the blue and gold across the past 10 seasons, so the All-Decade Team is slightly larger than a starting lineup. Here are the picks by position.

Dan Kennedy, 2001-04, Goalkeeper

Dan Kennedy was twice named the Big West's Goalkeeper of the Year in both 2003 and 2004. A four-time All-Big West selection and 2004 College Soccer News All-American, Kennedy set several UCSB records including lowest goals against average in a season (0.55), most matches played in a career (84), most minutes played in a career (7,653), goalkeeper wins (63) and career shutouts (34). Prior to this season, he owned the single season shutout record with his 13 recorded in 2004 and he still owns the record for consecutive regular season shutout minutes (748:13). A 2004 College Cup All-Tournament Team honoree and 2004 All-Far West region selection, Kennedy helped the Gauchos to their first three NCAA Tournament appearances and helped them reach the 2004 College Cup finals. He now plays professionally with Chivas USA.

Tony Lochhead, 2001-04, Left Fullback

Tony Lochhead is one of the top defenders to ever have worn a Gaucho jersey. As a senior he earned All-American honors from the NSCAA, College Soccer News and Soccer America. At the 2004 College Cup, he earned All-Tournament honors. The four-time All-Big West selection was picked as the conference's Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the All-Far West Region squad as a senior as well. Lochhead is currently playing for the New Zealand national team and last month he helped the All Whites advance to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Greg Curry, 2003-07, Central Defender

Greg Curry was a four-year letterwinner for the Gauchos, and despite never earning a conference or national honor during his career at UCSB, he was an integral part of the defensive backline every season he played. In his four years on the active roster (he redshirted the 2005 season), UCSB advanced to two College Cup finals and he started five games in the 2006 NCAA Tournament, including the semifinal and championship games. During his career, he helped UCSB post 41 shutouts and a combined 0.88 goals against average. In 2008, he was picked by the San Jose Earthquakes in the MLS Supplemental Draft.

Andy Iro, 2004-07, Central Defender

Andy Iro probably stands as one of the most decorated Gauchos of the last decade. As a rookie in 2004, he was named the Big West's Freshman of the Year and also garnered College Cup All-Tournament honors and All-American accolades from Soccer America and College Soccer News. In his sophomore year, he picked up the first of three consecutive Big West Defensive Player of the Year honors and All-Far West Region accolades. He was named a NSCAA All-American his junior and senior seasons, and a College Soccer News All-American in 2006 and 2007. After helping lead UCSB to the 2006 National Championship, he was named the College Cup's Most Outstanding Defensive Player. He was also a Hermann Trophy Candidate in both 2006 and 2007. Iro was the sixth overall pick in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft and he currently plays for Columbus Crew.

Chris Pontius, 2005-08, Right Fullback

Chris Pontius earned All-American honors from the NSCAA and College Soccer News following a standout senior season in which he led the Gauchos with 14 goals, which is tied sixth in the UCSB record book for single season goals, and his 32 points, which was eighth all-time. Pontius finished his career at UCSB with 29 goals, ranking fifth all-time, and first for shots in a season with 118 in 2008. While with the Gauchos, Pontius garnered two All-Far West Region selections, three All-Big West picks and was named the Big West Offensive Player of the Year in 2007 after leading the conference with 11 goals. The 2008 Hermann Trophy Candidate was drafted by DC United in the 2009 SuperDraft and was recently one of three finalists for MLS Rookie of the Year.

Memo Arzate, 2002-03, Attacking Midfielder

A two-time College Soccer News All-American, two-time All-Far West Region selection and two-time All-Big West pick, Memo Arzate was arguably the best midfielder to ever play for the Gauchos. After transferring from Compton College, Arzate spent two seasons at UCSB. In those two years, he was able to grab the No. 2 spot in the school record books for career assists with 36 and set a school record for single-season assists with 18 in each of his two seasons. His senior year, he was tied for the team lead with 30 points (six goals, 18 assists) and led the nation with an average of 0.82 assists per game. In 2003, Arzate was named the Big West Offensive Player of Year and following his playing career at UCSB, he was selected by the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2004 Major League Soccer SuperDraft.

Eric Avila, 2005-07, Midfielder

Midfielder Eric Avila spent three seasons with the Gauchos before being picked by FC Dallas, with which he currently plays, in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. He got his three-year career at UCSB off to a solid start in 2005 garnering Big West Freshman of the Year honors and College Soccer News All-Freshman First Team honors after appearing in - and starting - all 21 matches for the Gauchos. In 2006, he scored eight goals and tallied five assists (21 points) leading the Gauchos to their first NCAA title. In fact, Avila scored the game-winner in the Gauchos' 2-1 victory over UCLA in the College Cup final earning him College Cup All-Tournament honors. That same year, he earned All-American honors from the NSCAA and College Soccer News after also being named to the All-Far West Region First Team. In his final season with the Gauchos, Avila was a preseason All-American and Hermann Trophy Candidate. He finished 2007 with four goals and eight assists on his way to All-Big West and All-Far West honors.

Nate Boyden, 2001-05, Defensive Midfielder

Nate Boyden was one of several talented players that helped lead UCSB to its first College Cup in 2004. During his career, he posted six goals and seven assists in his 82 matches, including a career-high four helpers during the 2004 season. As a senior captain, Boyden led all defenders starting 20 of the Gauchos' 21 contests in 2005 and earned First Team All-Big West honors. An outstanding defensive midfielder, he earned All-Big West Second Team honors in 2004 after helping the UCSB defense finish third in the nation with a 0.53 goals against average. Boyden played professionally with the United Soccer League's Seattle Sounders following his career at UCSB.

Bryan Byrne, 2003-06, Midfielder

A two-time All-Far West Region pick and three-time All-Big West selection, Bryan Byrne ended his UCSB career in the school's top-10 for career assists with 19. The native of Castledermot, Ireland had a team-leading 10 assists during the 2006 national championship season, when he served as team captain. He was also named to the 2006 College Cup All-Tournament Team. For his career, he tallied 11 goals and 41 total points. Following his career at UCSB, he was selected in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft by the New England Revolution.

David McGill, 2002-03, Midfielder

After spending two seasons at UNC-Charlotte, David McGill transferred to UCSB and made an immediate impact on the program. In 2003, he earned Second Team All-Big West after ending the season ranked sixth in the nation with an average of 0.71 assists per game. He tallied 15 total assists, which is the fourth most in a single season in the UCSB record book. The Dublin, Ireland native helped guide UCSB to its first Sweet 16 appearance in 2003. He earned All-Big West honors again as a senior after notching another nine assists. His 24 career assists rank fifth all-time in UCSB history. Following his career in Santa Barbara, he was picked by the Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS SuperDraft.

Rob Friend, 2001-02, Forward

The Gauchos' only two-time Big West Offensive Player of the Year, Rob Friend still holds the school record for goals and points in a season after tallying 20 and 44, respectively, in 2002. The native of Kelowna, British Columbia joined the Gauchos after spending two seasons at Western Michigan and now ranks fourth all-time in UCSB history with 31 goals in the blue and gold and holds the record for consecutive matches with a goal after scoring in 12 straight contests. He was a 2002 NSCAA and College Soccer News All-American, two-time All-Big West selection and garnered All-Far West Region selection as a senior. Since graduating from UCSB, Friend has continued to play soccer internationally and is currently playing professionally in Germany.

Neil Jones, 2001-04, Forward

A two-time All-Big West selection, Neil Jones amassed 28 goals and 16 assists during his four seasons with UCSB. The native of Auckland, New Zealand is scattered throughout the UCSB record book, ranking sixth for career goals, fifth for points in a career (72) and seventh for shots in a career (159). During the 2004 season, his 10 goals, eight assists and 28 points all ranked second on the team and in 2003, he was tied with a team-leading 30 points (13 goals, four assists). Following his career at UCSB, Jones played professionally for the Queensland Roar in Australia before returning to Santa Barbara to join the coaching staff. He has been on the Gaucho sidelines for the past four seasons and helped guide UCSB to its 2006 NCAA title.

Drew McAthy, 2001-04, Forward

Drew McAthy finished his sensational four-year career with UCSB as the Gauchos' all-time leading scorer with 53 career goals. He also owns the school record for points in a career (122), shots in a career (281) and matches played in a career (87). A 2004 NSCAA and College Soccer News All-American, McAthy was named the 2004 College Cup's Most Outstanding Offensive Player after scoring three goals at the tournament. The four-time All-Big West selection was named the conference's Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2004 and he also twice earned All-Far West region accolades in 2002 and 2004.

To see the All-Decade women's volleyball team, click here
To see the All-Decade men's water polo team, click here
To see the All-Decade women's soccer team, click here

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