No. 1 Gauchos Travel to UC Riverside and Cal State Northridge for Pair of Key Big West Matches

Oct. 12, 2004

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A Month On Top Of The Mountain
Having regained its No. 1 ranking from Soccer America, UC Santa Barbara is once again the consensus No. 1 team in the nation. With the release of this week's polls the Gauchos have now been the nation's top-ranked team in at least one of the major polls for four consecutive weeks. And according the NSCAA/adidas coaches' poll, the most recognized and influential of the four, UCSB is atop the chart for the third straight week. Just one of four undefeated teams in Division I at 10-0-1, the Gauchos also sit on top of the Big West Conference standings with nine points as a result of their 3-0-0 record in league play.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. UC Riverside Highlanders
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
3:00 p.m. at UCR's Soccer Complex

Having met UC Riverside already once this season, the Highlanders will be looking the exact a little revenge against the Gauchos. Currently tied for second in the Big West with Cal State Northridge by of its six points (2-1-0), UCR has a chance to move into a tie for first with UCSB should it win on its home turf. Unfortunately for the Highlanders they don't seem to hold much of home field advantage when it comes to the Gauchos, in the past three years UCSB has outscored UCR 10-1, that one goal coming last season in a 3-1 loss.

After opening the season at 4-1, the best start in program history at the Division I level, UCR went on a four-game skid that began with its 3-0 in Harder Stadium three weeks ago, a game in which UCSB forward Neil Jones netted his first career hat-trick. Back on the winning track with a 2-0 shutout on the road at UC Irvine, the Highlanders are an even 5-5-0 on the season.

Defense has been a major key to UC Riverside's increased success as a program. Charles Alamo has led the Highlanders in goal this season with a 1.56 goals against average, fourth best in the Big West.

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos at Cal State Northridge Matadors Saturday, October 16, 2004
3:00 p.m. at CSUN's Matador Field

For the first time since the Big West reinstated men's soccer in 2001, UCSB will travel to Cal State Northridge with the intent of regaining the title of conference champion. The winners of both the 2001 and 2002 crowns, UCSB lost out on a three-peat last season when the Matadors earned the Big West title by of a 7-2-1 conference record, one point ahead of the Gauchos who finished at 7-0-0. The bridesmaid in 2002, CSUN earned last year's title in large part because of its 2-1 win over UCSB at home last season.

When the Santa Barbara rolls onto Matador Soccer Field it will be looking to snap its longest conference winless streak. In the past three seasons the Gauchos have yet to pick up a win in Northridge, the only conference field UCSB has yet to win on since 2001. The Gauchos last beat CSUN at their place in 2000 as a member of the MPSF. UCSB's lone tie came in 2002 in the form of double-shutout.

At 2-0-0 in conference play Cal State Northridge sits in second place in the Big West behind the Gauchos. After starting the season at 2-3-0, the Matadors have rolled of five straight wins to improve to 7-3-0, tying them for 30th best in the nation. Averaging 2.30 goals per game, 18th best in Division I, CSUN is lead by forward Willie Sims with nine goals in ten matches, tying him for 18th in the nation and second only to Drew McAthy in the Big West.

Time To Make Room
With two more goals this past week, senior forward Drew McAthy ran his season total to 10, giving him 45 for his career and bringing him within one of the Gauchos' all-time goal scoring crown. Currently tied for 11th in the nation and leading the Big West averaging 0.91 goals per game, McAthy's run at becoming UCSB's all-time leading scorer has been at a blistering pace this season. When he set his career-high as a sophomore with 18 goals in 22 matches he finished the season averaging 0.82 goals per game. Should he continue at his current rate he will finish the regular season (20 games) with 18, giving him a career mark of 53, surpassing the Gauchos' soon to be former goal scoring record holder Scott Grassinger's mark of 46 by seven. Grassinger's record has stood since the conclusion of the 1983 season.

Five-In-A-Row Perhaps the name of the Big West's weekly award for soccer player of the week should changed to "Gaucho of the Week." When senior forward Neil Jones received the honor this week it marked the fifth straight week that a player from UCSB has been recognized by the conference as having the best individual performance of all the players in the Big West. Sharing this week's accolades with Cal State Northridge's Willie Sims, Jones paced the Gauchos' offensive outburst last week by contributing on six of Santa Barbara's nine goals, scoring two and assisting on four others. Thus far in conference play this year, three games, Jones has rang up a total of 14 points off of five goals and nine assists. Overall he has been directly responsible for nine of UCSB's 12 goals in Big West action. What might be even more impressive is that his five goals have come on just seven shots for a .714 shot percentage.

Not the Singer
Not to be confused with the lead singer from the hard rock band Korn, UCSB's Jonathon Davis has been blowing up the back of nets like the band did the charts in the late 1990's and 2000. Having returned from an injury that limited his playing time to next nothing over the past month, the junior forward, a transfer from North Carolina, first returned to the lineup in the Gauchos' 1-1 tie at USF. Since then Davis has tallied three goals in the last two matches, including the game-tying goal last Saturday at Cal Poly, on a total of, get this, just four shots. In his first four games as a Gaucho, albeit in a limited role in the first four of the season, Davis netted just one goal and tallied just one assist. But thanks to his outburst this past week he is now third on the team with four goals, tying him for sixth in the Big West, having appeared in just seven matches.

Getting Theirs
In honor of the recent passing of comedian Rodney Dangerfield, UCSB's midfield is not getting any respect. With most of the Gauchos' offensive scoring coming the men up front, and all of the accolades that their back-line, now that it eligible once again, has been getting, the excellent play of Santa Barbara's midfield has often been overshadowed. One of the main reasons that UCSB's forwards are able to run with each other and its defense is able to shut down opposing offenses has been the Gauchos' ability to control the midfield and bridge the gap between the forwards and defenders. Junior Efren Mata, although he did not receive any credit for any assists this past week, set up most UCSB's attacks with his distribution ala Memo Arzate. And when called upon freshman Tyler Rosenlund controlled the ball while setting up the Gauchos' final two goals at Cal Poly. Wide midfielders Matt Bly and Jon Apilado having been showing the form of earned both players points in last year's NCAA Tournament. And defensive midfielder's Nate Boyden and Corey Wood have been downright impenetrable, snatching up any loose balls that happen to reach the back third.

Worthy Goals
Senior goalkeeper Dan Kennedy has started and completed all 11 UCSB matches this season. He enters the week with a 10-0-1 record, seven shutouts and a 0.52 goals against average. Of the six goals that Kennedy has allowed in his 1,041 minutes this year, three are of the penalty kick variety. If you subtract the penalty kicks, and woundn't that be nice, his goals against average would be a meager 0.26. Finally, last week, Kennedy became the program's all-time leader in minutes played at 6,554, the most by a goalkeeper or a field player.