Aug. 26, 2003
After ten days in England and Ireland, the UC Santa Barbara Men's Soccer team returned home with three wins, one loss, and an exhausted party of thirty. When all was said and done the Gauchos logged over forty-five hours of travel time and eighteen goals as they took their first steps at defending their second consecutive Big West Conference Championship.
UCSB began the trip on Friday, August 15th with a few days in London, England that were highlighted by Santa Barbara's tour-opening 9-0 shutout victory over Hertfordshire FC and a set of tickets to Arsenal's English Premier League season-opener against Everton. The tie-in between the two...Everton is the favorite team of senior forward Neil Jones who led all scorers with a hat-trick against Heartfordshire. Unfortunately for Jones, the home side downed his boys 2-1 in front of a sell-out crowd.
Five different Gauchos netted goals in the first game, led by Jones and followed by fellow forwards, senior Gene Deering and junior Drew McAthy, with two apiece. Junior Matt Bly and senior David McGill each tallied one goal.
McGill was assisted on the game-winner in the 25th minute by senior playmaker Memo Arzate, who finished the game with two assists. Senior Darren Doi and incoming freshman Johnny Alcaraz led the team with three assists each, with Doi assisting on each of Jones' tallies. Junior defender Tony Lochhead rounded out the scoring with UCSB's only other assist.
Redshirt freshman Justin Pugh got the win in goal making two saves in the first half, including a crucial save just five minutes into the match. Sophomore keeper Kyle Reynish made one save in the second half to preserve the shutout.
The visiting side also saw tremendous play by incoming players Bryan Byrne and Greg Curry in the middle of the field. Byrne demonstrated his blistering speed on the outside, blowing by any defender that he came across, while Curry quickly proved that he could very well be one of the best defensive midfielders that UCSB has seen in the last 20 years.
Unfortunately, the next series of days saw two games cancelled for the visitors from the United States as they made their way into the Manchester area of Northern England/Wales. Had it not been for "The Tour," the trip up north would have turned out to be a waste. So what was "The Tour" you ask! How about three hours of taking in the famed Old Trafford, home of the most successful professional soccer team in the world, Manchester United. From the seats, the VIP lounge, the locker room, the player's lounge, the dugout, or the tunnel onto the pitch, no matter where you stood you knew you were in a soccer mecca.
After five days in England the Gauchos then hopped on a plane for a short flight to Dublin, Ireland, the home of senior standout David McGill. Following a day to rest and take in the sights with a guided tour by McGill and fellow Irishman Bryan Byrne, UCSB engaged in three matches in three days to finish play.
Schellbourne FC turned out to be Santa Barbara's second victim of it's European Tour, as the Gauchos handed the home team a 5-1 loss, for their second win in as many tries. Schellbourne was comprised completely of players who won Ireland's very prestigious U-17 Championship just one year prior. That showed as the hosts struck five minutes into the match to take an early 1-0 lead.
Continuing his streak from across the Irish Sea, Jones scored the equalizer in the 30th minute, slotting the goalkeeper off of a pass from Arzate. Arzate then fed the ball to Alcaraz ten minutes later after a scrabble in front of the net to set up the game-winner.
UCSB added three more goals in the second half, one each by McAthy, Byrne, and Arzate. Arzate led all scorers with one goal and two assists. McAthy and Jones also each added an assist to compliment their goals in the match. Doi and senior midfielder Matt Kubota, who tore up the left side of field all game, rounded out the scoring with one assist apiece.
Two-time All-Big West honoree Dan Kennedy was credited with the win in goal in his first appearance of the trip, making two saves in 75 minutes of play.
Santa Barbara then made it three-for-three the following day with a 3-2 come from behind win over Kildare, the Gauchos toughest competition up to that point. Down 2-1 at half time, sophomore Pat Scott finished off a Tony Lochhead corner-kick in the 75th minute to tie the game at two apiece, breathing life back into UCSB who had gone flat after relinquishing an early 1-0 lead.
With less than two minutes remaining, McAthy collected a rebound in front of the net and found Alcaraz near the top of the penalty box. The freshman midfielder took control of the pass and fired one on frame, netting the game-winner.
Matt Bly scored UCSB's first goal of the match when he redirected an Arzate cross from just outside the penalty box.
All three Gaucho netminders saw action in the Kildare match with Justin Pugh earning the win, making a late save in the final 40 minutes of play. Kennedy played the first 15 minutes and stopped one shot, while Reynish took the middle 35 minutes, giving up both Kildare scores (one on a PK) and saving two other potential tallies.
Everyone knew going into the fourth and final game of the tour that it would be Santa Barbara's most difficult. Take away playing games each of the two previous days and having to drive over four hours through the Irish countryside to get to the complex, the Gauchos were still left with a match with one of the toughest teams in Ireland, the reserves for Derry FC in Northern Ireland.
With Derry's first team, who competes in Ireland's highest professional division, on the road, UCSB was set to face a team that included players from the first team who did not make the trip and their best from the reserve squad. Santa Barbara was essentially facing the second string of a first division team.
UCSB struggled at the beginning as Derry peppered the net with uncommon ease for the first twenty minutes or so, netting two early goals. For the final 25 minutes of the first half, the Gauchos settled down and controlled the game for most of the remaining time heading into the break. However the second half proved to be much like the first, with Derry striking early and UCSB left trying to crawl back.
The home side added three more in the second half before the Gauchos were finally able to find the back of the net. In the 75th minute Byrne headed in an Arzate corner kick to give the game its final 5-1 score.
Arzate led UCSB with eight shots, while Byrne was second on the team with seven.
Kennedy was given the start and was credited with the loss. Despite making four saves, Derry's offense was just too much for the Gauchos' defense. Pugh filled the pipes for the final 30 minutes, giving up one goal and recording one save.
Although Santa Barbara lost its final game to avoid sweeping all four opponents of its European tour, the visitors from The States did not leave on a bad note. With one final day back in London before the eleven-hour flight back to California, the Gauchos attended their second English Premier League match of the trip. This time watching Tottenham defeat Leeds by the same 2-1 score as the Arsenal match they attended the prior week.
So when all was said and done, here were the totals:
Goals Scored, 18
Goals Against, 8
Leading Goal Scorer, Jones (4), despite playing just two matches
Most Assists, Arzate (6)
Leading Point Scorer, Jones (9)
Lowest GAA, Pugh (1.00)
Countries visited, 4
English Premier League matches attended, 2
Sporting Meccas visited, 2 (you can't forget Old Trafford)
Plane flights, 4
Total travel time logged between destinations, 45 hours
Other travel time on the bus, 25 hours
Pictures taken, way too many to count
14th century castles visited, 1
Early morning training sessions, 5
Hat-tricks, 3 (one goal & two assist)
Hotel Buffets, don't want to remember
Favorite Snacks Found, 1 (Jaffa Cakes)
Phone Card Minutes used, don't ask
Memories created, endless