Follow the 2010 World Cup with the men's and women's UCSB soccer programs all tournament long on UCSBgauchos.com. "South Africa to Santa Barbara: The Cup is Coming" will provide daily commentary on the day's biggest storylines, featuring video interviews with Gaucho soccer players and men's head coach, Tim Vom Steeg.
To view previous entries click here.
World Cup 2010 has not gone according to plan.
England, equipped with a firing squad of Premier League stars, is winless. Germany, which opened the tournament with a 4-0 spanking of Australia, is one loss to Ghana away from going home. Spain lost to the Swiss. The French team, winners in 2002, is in the midst of a Civil War. And, knowing how that country has fared in the past, no one is expected to win.
For one squad, not going according to plan has been the key. Ranked 78th in the FIFA World Rankings, New Zealand flew to Johannesburg with modest expectations. The country had not been to a World Cup since 1982, had never secured a single point in Cup competition, and qualified by beating countries more known for vacationing than sporting prowess.
However, after a 1-1 tie against defending champion, Italy, it is the All Whites that are making the biggest splash in this year's competition. New Zealand sits tied for second with the Azzurri in Group F with two points, and, with a victory over Paraguay (four points), will find itself, unfathomably, in the Round of 16.
"For [New Zealand] to get that result and get a point out of a game that even they thought would get away from them is a really good thing," said UCSB head women's soccer coach Paul Stumpf. "To get results from a defending champion in Italy- a team that has won multiple World Cup titles- is remarkable for a team like New Zealand."
Playing all 180 minutes of the All Whites' matches so far is former Gaucho Tony Lochhead (2001-04), who has looked impressive from the left wingback position. A left defender during his playing days at Harder Stadium, New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert has moved Lochhead into a more offensive role considering the Tauranga native's ability to take on defenders and curl-in balls across the box from his strong side.
"When [UCSB] would need a goal or need to create more chances, we would move Tony up a bit because he was so offensive minded," said Lochhead's former coach, UCSB head men's soccer coach Tim Vom Steeg. "I used to joke with him that he would get beat over the top a lot, but his ability to have the mindset of an attacker when going forward was a real benefit to our team back in '04."
It was 2004 when the Gauchos, headlined by Kiwis Lochhead and Neil Jones, visited the College Cup for the first time in school history. UCSB would end up falling to Indiana on penalty kicks at the Home Depot Center, but Lochhead's squad set the standard for the future of Gaucho soccer. In 2006, UCSB beat UCLA in the College Cup in St. Louis, securing the program's first national championship.
Now one of the highest-profile soccer programs in the country, UCSB is set to host the 2010 College Cup, on Dec. 10-12 at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. If all goes according to plan, the Gauchos will be one of the final four teams standing and have the opportunity to play in their own backyard on college soccer's biggest stage.
For New Zealand, it would have been optimistic to think it would have the chance to move into the Round of 16 when the brackets were announced.
Now, that's the plan.
Season tickets start at just $75 and include one ticket to all home men and women's regular season games and one College Cup All Session ticket. UCSB staff and faculty can purchase their season tickets for a reduced rate of $50.