Aug. 20, 2003
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -
On the heels of its first NCAA Tournament appearance ever, the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team is ranked 21st in the nation in the first NSCAA/adidas of the 2003 campaign. The 21st spot is the highest preseason ranking in the program's history.
The Gauchos return several starters from a 2002 team that was the best in school history, going 18-3-1 overall, 9-0-1 in the Big West and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Last week, UCSB was picked by the Big West coaches to win its third straight conference championship.
Despite the graduation of leading goal-scorer and All-American forward Rob Friend, Santa Barbara returns numerous key players. Senior midfielder Memo Arzate, who assisted on a school-record 18 goals in 2002, returns, as does junior forward Drew McAthy, who scored 17 goals, the third most in school history. Arzate will be joined on the midfield by another senior, David McGill, who posted 15 assists in 2003. Additionally, UCSB returns junior goalkeeper Danny Kennedy who recorded a 0.99 goals against average and six shutouts in 2002.
UCSB is one of six west coast schools ranked in the top-25. UCLA, the defending NCAA Champion, is ranked first, Stanford is third, Cal, which defeated the Gauchos 2-1 in the second round of last year's NCAA Tournament, is ranked 17th. Loyola Marymount and Portland are tied for 22nd in the poll.
The Gauchos are currently on a tour of England and Ireland. They return to Santa Barbara next week to prepare for their difficult early season schedule. UCSB opens the season on August 31 at San Jose State. Following the opener in Northern California, the Gauchos will play a pair of matches in Durham, North Carolina. On Friday, September 5, they play North Carolina State and on Sunday September 7, they close out the Duke Tournament with the host Blue Devils. UCSB plays its home opener on Friday, September 12 at 7:00 p.m. against Michigan State.