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.
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A soccer match between New Zealand and Slovakia is an automatic channel-flipper in any other World Cup, but Santa Barbara soccer fans will be rising at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning to catch former UCSB standout Tony Lochhead perform for the All Whites in New Zealand's opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Lochhead is the first Gaucho to appear in the World Cup and is expected to start at left back for a New Zealand squad appearing in its first Cup since 1982- the same year Lochhead was born.
"It is a great thrill for us at UCSB to have a player playing and representing his country," said UC Santa Barbara men's soccer head coach Tim Vom Steeg. "Tony has done a great job at locking down that left back position for the past five or six years now."
Lochhead, who played with the Gauchos from 2001-04, also played professionally for the New England Revolution after graduating from UCSB. He currently stars for Wellington Phoenix Football Club in Australia. He made his debut with the All Whites in October of 2003 and played every minute of New Zealand's Confederations Cup campaign this past year.
As a senior at UCSB, Lochhead led the team to the 2004 College Cup Final, where the Gauchos eventually lost to Indiana on penalty kicks. He picked up second-team All-American honors and the Big West Defensive Player of the Year award that same season.
This year's UCSB men's soccer team has shades of the 2004 Gaucho squad as another Kiwi, Michael Boxall, will anchor a defense poised to make a run at the 2010 College Cup. Vom Steeg and Boxall recently appeared on UCSB Soccer's Official 2010 World Cup video blog, South Africa to Santa Barbara: The Cup is Coming. To watch it, click here.
For Boxall, who started two of three matches for the Oly-Whites at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has appeared with the senior squad in two contests, watching Lochhead take on the Fighting Jondas will be inspiring.
"Just knowing that someone has taken these same steps to where [Lochhead] is at right now gives me a lot of belief," said Boxall. "I'm obviously very proud of Tony and everyone that's on the squad that I know. It is going to be very exciting."
Playing in Group F along with defending champion Italy, Slovakia, and Paraguay, advancing to the elimination rounds would be the high point for New Zealand Football. In its appearance in '82, the All Whites conceded 12 goals on their way to a 0-3 showing. Beating the likes of Fiji, New Caledonia, and Bahrain during Cup qualifying earns no one respect in the world of soccer, so the New Zealanders have much to prove this campaign.
"All the stuff I am getting [from my UCSB teammates] is that we are not going to score a goal and we are just there to make up the numbers," said Boxall. "For now I will keep holding my tongue and the results will speak for themselves."
To see Vom Steeg's reaction to the United States' 1-1 tie with England, click here.
While watching New Zealand perform in South Africa, Boxall and the rest of the UCSB men's soccer team are training and preparing for a season that will hopefully end up with a trip to the 2010 College Cup, being hosted by UCSB on Dec. 10-12 at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. 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.