Sixth-Ranked and First Place Gauchos Travel South to Take on Cal State Fullerton
This Week's Schedule
Saturday, October 30
Big West Conference Match
No. 6 UC Santa Barbara (12-2-1) at Cal State Fullerton (3-7-2)
Titan Stadium Fullerton, Calif.
Kickoff 7:00 p.m.
Back To Their Winning Ways
UC Santa Barbara remained near the top of the polls this week after suffering just its second setback of the season last week against UC Irvine, slipping to No. 6 in the NSCAA/adidas coaches poll. Entering last week 2nd in the nation, UCSB lost 1-0 to the Anteaters at home before rebounding with a commanding 2-0 victory over Cal Poly at home to remain in the Top 10 and improve to 12-2-1 on season. In fact the Gauchos' No. 6 ranking from the NSCAA marks the sixth straight week that they have been in the Top 10 of the coaches poll. Overall Santa Barbara has been ranked 6th or higher in one of the four major polls since week three of the season, working out to be seven straight weeks. The Gauchos are also ranked 8th this week by Soccer America and College Soccer News and 9th by Soccer Times. UNC Greensboro remains the consensus No. 1 for the second straight week.
Cal State Fullerton Game Capsule
This weekend will mark the second time this season that UCSB will have faced Cal State Fullerton, having taken the first match 4-3 in double-overtime in fog blanketed Harder Stadium. Sophomore forward Tino Nuñez proved the overtime heroics for Santa Barbara picking up Neil Jones' rebound from in between the outstretched arms of a Titan defender with just over two minutes remaining in the second overtime period and pushed it home give the Gauchos their ninth win of the season. The game also marked the first time that a team had scored more that one goal in a single match against UCSB on the year, tallying three after the Gauchos opened up a 2-0. Two on a pair of penalty kicks and the third after a clearing past bounced awkwardly off the back of a Titan forward.
Last season the Gauchos suffered their worst loss in over three years in Fullerton, falling to the Titans 4-1 under a blanket of smoke from the nearby Southern California Wildfires. The loss last season at CSUF began UCSB's streak of three consecutive Big West losses after having gone unbeaten in 14 straight. However this season it appears as is if UCSB no longer primed for an upset having broken its streak of two straight losses and is once again back on the winning track.
And Down the Stretch They Come
Leading the Big West with just three conference games remaining is good news for the Gauchos. Over the past two seasons the Gauchos have posted a perfect 3-0 record to close out each of the two years heading in the NCAA Tournament. Of those six combined games UCSB shutout its opponents in five by a combined score of 12-0, the lone team to score on the Gauchos in the final three games of the regular season is UC Riverside who did so in a last season that UCSB won 3-1.
A Bit Confusing
With just three Big West Conference games remaining the Gauchos have a five-point lead over the rest of the field with a 5-2-0 conference record, with Cal State Northridge and UC Riverside in second with ten points apiece. UC Irvine sits in fourth after picking up its second conference win last week against the Gauchos with six points and Cal Poly and this week's opponent Cal State Fullerton are tied for the fifth spot with three. But figuring out how the conference standings are going to pan out is not that simple because UCSB has leg up on the competition due to the fact that it has already played seven Big West matches, while UCR has played six, CSUN, UCI and Cal Poly have only played five, and CSUF just four. With Fullerton having a maximum of six matches left it can conceivably earn a total of 21 points on the season should it win out. Cal Poly with five games remaining can earn 18 points, Irvine can get a total of 21, and Riverside can earn 22. Cal State Northridge has the best opportunity at catching the Gauchos and earning a second consecutive Big West title with a chance to rack up a total of 25 points compared to UCSB's cap of 24. But both CSUN and UCSB control their own destiny as they will face each other once more this season on November 10th in Santa Barbara.
Season Preview: 2005
When UC Irvine netted its lone goal last week it snapped goalkeeper Kyle Reynish's two-and-a-half season scoreless streak. Filling in for an injured Dan Kennedy, Reynish has proven that if he were not playing behind on the top goalkeepers in the nation that he would be one of the nation's best as well. As a freshman in 2002 the Valencia native appeared in seven matches, posting a complete match shutout in his lone start, and ended the season without allowing a single goal in 202 minutes and 24 seconds of play. Reynish picked up where he left off two years ago when he combined with Kennedy for the third time in his career for a shutout in his first appearance of this season at UC Riverside, making one save to move his career total to ten. With his shutout streak now at 247:24 to start his career Reynish made a pair of saves, one point-blank, in the first half of the match with the Anteaters only to see it snap in the second half on a one-on-one because UCSB defensive mistake near midfield. With 73:24 ticks of the clock gone Reynish's streak came to an end at 320:48, and just minutes later he was once again faced with a one-on-one, except this time it was the sophomore keeper who won. Three nights later Reynish picked up his second complete match shutout despite not having to make a single save to give in 1.5 on the season, which averages out to 0.50 per game, second only to Kennedy in the Big West.
The Best In The Business
Now if UCSB's defense could just play together every match I'm not sure if any team would ever score. Although the outside backs have shuffled around in the past few weeks, the Gauchos two starting central defenders, Andy Iro and Tony Lochhead, have been the same, except of course when one is ineligible or ejected. As you might have expected after last week's piece on red and yellow cards, the lone goal scored by Santa Barbara's opposition last week came when Iro was serving a red card suspension. And when the freshman from Liverpool returned to the lineup, the Gaucho defense limited Cal Poly to a minuscule season-low three shots, all of which did not find the frame. So far this season only twice has UCSB been scored on in the run of play (@ Cal Poly, @ CSUN) when both Lochhead and Iro are manning the backline. And not to be overlooked defensively is the play of Pat Scott and Nate Boyden on the outside and in the middle, respectively, who have aided Lochhead and Iro in putting together the nation's 11th best defense with a 0.64 team goals against average.
Drew McAthy can now breathe a sigh of relief now that he has scored what he considers to be one of the hardest goals score of his life, netting the Gauchos' insurance goal in their 2-0 win over Cal Poly to tie Scott Grassinger's all-time school record of 46 career goals scored. Currently tied for 19th in the nation averaging 0.73 goals per game, with Big West best 11 through the first fifteen games of the season, McAthy can now just focus on helping UCSB win games and advance to its third straight NCAA Tournament. In his career McAthy has put together three of the Gauchos' best-ever offensive performances, currently tied for tenth this season already with 11, his 14 goals as a sophomore is the fifth best single season performance in school history. And his 17 tallies last year is the third best single season mark, just three shy of UCSB's single season record of 20 set by Rob Friend in 2002. Adding in his 13 career assists, the three-time All-Big West honoree has is just five points shy of second all-time in career scoring behind Eric Price ('78-'82). Thus far this season the Gauchos are a perfect 8-0-0 in games when McAthy scores, and 9-0-0 when he gets on the scoresheet.
Making a Name For Themselves
UCSB's freshman class has been getting into the mix lately, accounting for three of the Gauchos' last seven goals, and five of the last seven assists. Combining the two, a member of this year's freshman class has been involved in the scoring of seven of UCSB's last eight goals. Midfielder Tyler Rosenlund leads the way with three assists, including both in Sunday's 2-0 victory over Cal Poly, tying fellow Canadian newcomer Andrew Proctor with who also has three points off of one goal and one assist over the last nine halves. Brennan Tennelle is next with two points after scoring Sunday's game-winner for the first goal of his career, alongside Tennelle is Andy Iro who netted UCSB's lone goal against Cal State Northridge. And defender Myles Davis rounds out the Gauchos' freshman scoring over the last three weeks with one assist against UC Riverside.