This Week's Schedule
Sunday * Sunday, November 28
NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championships Sweet 16
No. 1 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 3 UNC Greensboro
UNCG Soccer Stadium Greensboro, NC
2:00 p.m. EST Kickoff
Broadcast live on KCSB 91.9 FM and www.kcsb.org
With top-ranked UC Santa Barbara's second round win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Tuesday, they improved their all-time tourney record to 3-2, having posted their third opening game victory in as many tries. Advancing to their second consecutive Sweet 16, Santa Barbara will be going for a trio of program firsts, a trip into the Elite Eight, a tourney win on the road, and two tournament wins in the same year. Last year the Gauchos came close to achieving all three, losing in the Sweet 16 to National Runner-up St. John's, 3-2, in double overtime in New York.
UNC Greensboro Game Capsule>
*The University of North Carolina, Greensboro entered this year's NCAA Tournament as the No. 8 seed. After the Spartans first round bye, they advanced to this weekend's Sweet 16 with a 2-1 win over the College of Charleston on Tuesday. UNCG enters Sunday's match with a 19-2-1 record and a No. 3 ranking in the NSCAA/adidas Coaches poll.
*Sunday's match should be a great college soccer match as the Spartans bring the nation's top-rated offense, averaging 2.64 goals per game, and the Gaucho's bring the nation's third-rated defense with a 0.54 goals against average. UNCG is led by forward Randi Patterson with 19 goals, the second most scored in Division I this season, and has five players who have scored six goals or more this year. Patterson also paces Greensboro with eight assists. Jay Benfield has put up a 1.00 GAA in between the pipes with a save percentage of .778.
*The winner of Sunday's Sweet 16 match will advance to face the winner of the Wake Forest vs. Virginia Commonwealth. With Wake earning the top seed in the tournament it will host the winner the UCSB/UNCG match next Friday, Saturday or Sunday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. If both UCSB and VCU win this weekend, the match is scheduled for Saturday, December 4 at 7:00 p.m. in Harder Stadium.
Currently at 18-2-1 on the year, top-ranked UC Santa Barbara has a chance this weekend to become the winningest team in program history. The Gauchos tied the 2002 squad which finished the season at 18-3-1 after advancing to the second round in the program's first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. Tied for 3rd in the nation with a .881 win/loss/tied percentage, the Gauchos' 18 wins are the second most by any team this season, the only team with more victories, you guessed it, UNCG with 19. UCSB has now posted 16-plus wins in each of the last three seasons.
The D's Gettin' It Done
Since losing their only two games of the season back-to-back after starting the year out at 11-0-1, the Gauchos have won seven straight to establish the longest active winning streak in the nation. With three of those coming against teams that were ranked nationally at the time, and five coming by way of shutout, defense has been Santa Barbara's key to success riding into the tournament, only once over the course of their seven-game winning streak has an opponent registered a double-digit shot total. But what is more indicative of how UCSB is currently playing is that only twice in the last seven matches has it allowed more than two shots on goal, limiting its opponent to an average of just 1.86 shots on goal and 6.71 overall. On the flip side the Gaucho offense has averaged 5.86 shots on goal, and 15.86 overall on its current streak. And proving that those performances have not come against "patty-cake" offenses, UCSB limited UWM to one goal, four shots on goal, and seven shots overall. Entering the second round match the Panthers had been averaging 2.14 goals, 6.7 shots on goal, and 14.5 shots overall per contest.
When the Gauchos and Spartans square off on Sunday it will be the first ever meeting between the two squads, but being new is nothing new to UCSB. This season Santa Barbara has faced four opponents for the first time in program history, UConn, Seton Hall, Columbia, and UWM, and after each game UCSB walked away with a W. However, the last time the Gauchos lost to a first time opponent, it was to St. John's last year in the Sweet 16.
Gaucho Bricklayers, INC.
The UCSB men's soccer team has seen many a record fall this season, but the one that stands out the most is its nation's best 13 shutouts. Averaging 0.62 per contest, third in Division I, this year's defensive unit of Tony Lochhead, Andy Iro, Nate Boyden, Pat Scott, and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, having proven to be the stingiest in Gaucho history. Currently sporting a combined 0.55 goals against average when you mix in Kyle Reynish's shutout, the third lowest in nation, UCSB's stellar defense gave up just 11 goals in 20 regular season contests to set yet another school record for goals allowed in a season. A true team effort, the group has limited the opposition to single-digit shot totals in ten matches, and four or less in four. And when their opponents do manage to get off a shot very rarely is it on frame, as in nine contests this season they have limited the opposition to three shots on goal or less, twice not allowing a single shot on frame. In fact, at one point this season UCSB's defense went 276 consecutive minutes without giving up a single shot on goal. But when their number is called, Kennedy and Reynish have combined to put up an outstanding .854 save percentage.
The Chips Got Bigger
UC Santa Barbara heads into its third consecutive NCAA Tournament ranked No. 1 in the nation in the NSCAA/adidas coaches' poll. After starting the season ranked 15th in the NSCAA Preseason Poll, the Gauchos used a 17-2-1 overall record to propel them into the No. 1 spot to end the regular season, spending a total of five weeks, including the final two, with the billing as the nationÕs top team. Including the other three major national polls, UCSB was tabbed as the No. 1 squad by at least one of them in week's four, five, six, seven, ten, and now eleven. The team that pushed the Gauchos from the No. 1 spot in the NSCAA poll in weeks eight and nine is this weekend's opponent, UNC Greensboro.
Making Themselves Familiar
The Gauchos entered the 2004 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championships with a school record No. 9 seeding and a first round bye. Amidst some questioning, UCSB improved upon last season's seeding on No. 11, the program's first-ever in just its second trip to the show. Santa Barbara posted a 4-1-1 overall record against teams in this year's championships, including a 1-0 overtime victory on the road over this year's No. 2 seed Indiana, ending the defending National Champions streak of 23 games without having suffered a loss. UCSB also shutout tournament participants Seton Hall and UConn in week two.
Four-time All-Big West defender Tony Lochhead has proven himself throughout his career to be not only one of, if not, the best defenders on the field for the Gauchos in the NCAA Tournament, but he has also established himself as on of their biggest offense threats as well. In UCSB's five tournament games, Lochhead as been a part of four of the Gauchos' nine goals scored, netting one goal (Cal, 1st Round 2003) and tallied three assists. And over the course of those five contests, the UCSB defense, accompanied by four-time All-Big West goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, has also posted two shutouts.
Both Sides of the Ball
In keeping with the theme of Santa Barbara's outstanding defensive play, it was only fitting that junior defender Pat Scott scored the game-winner against UWM in the double-overtime. In addition to it being Scott's first career goal, it was also the GauchosÕ fifth golden goal of the season. His goal also marked the second year in a row that a defender scored the game-winning goal in UCSB's NCAA Tournament-opening game, Jeff Murphy netted the game-winner last season at home against Cal in the second round. All in all, of Santa Barbara's nine goals scored in tourney play, three have been scored by defenders and three others have been assisted by players out of the back.
From All Over the Place
Drew McAthy and Neil Jones have made up for a bulk of the Santa Barbara scoring, 63 of its 138 points, the remaining 75 have been dispersed amongst 17 other players, leaving opponents wondering where the next attack will start from. Of the 20 different players to take to the pitch for UCSB this season, 19 have tallied at least one point, 15 at least two, and half the team has racked up at least four. At the top, junior forward Jonathan Davis, who netted his fifth goal of the season against UWM and sophomore forward Tino Nunez join McAthy and Jones with double-digit shot totals. Of those four, the Gauchos' three leading goal scorers, McAthy, Jones, and Davis, are all shooting .200 or better after 21 games. Jones also paces the Gaucho attack with a team leading eight assists, including one on Tuesday night's game-winner, while Nunez and defender Tony Lochhead are second on the team with six assists apiece.
Back Where It Belongs
It didn't come until the final week of the regular season, but the Gauchos took claim of their third Big West Conference Championship in the last four years when downed 23rd-ranked Cal State Northridge 2-1 in Harder Stadium. The Matadors finished second in the conference standings as they flip-flopped with UCSB from the 2003 table. The Gauchos put together an 8-2-0 record in Big West play this season to mark the fourth straight year that Santa Barbara has collected at least seven wins in conference competition, culminating in a 31-7-1 combined conference record since the Big West reinstated men's soccer in 2001. The Gauchos finished the regular season atop the Big West charts in wins (17), points (131), goals (40), assists (51), goals against average (0.53), shutouts (13), corner kicks (141), yellow cards (48), and attendance (24,292), averaging 1,215 per contest, more than twice as much as any other team in the conference.
Big West Accolades
For the fourth straight year, the Gauchos produced the Big West ConferenceÕs Offensive Player of the Year, as senior forward Drew McAthy took a share of this season's honors. UCSB had eight players in all earn all-conference honors and head coach Tim Vom Steeg earned the first Big West Coach of the Year award of his career. In addition to McAthy's co-offensive accolades, senior netminder Dan Kennedy was named the Big West's Goalkeeper of the Year for the second consecutive season, while defenders Tony Lochhead, a senior, and Andy Iro, a freshman, earned the conference's Defensive and Freshman Player of the Year awards, respectively. Joining McAthy, Kennedy, Lochhead and Iro on the All-Big West First Team were senior forward Neil Jones and junior defender Pat Scott, giving the 2004 Big West Champions six first team selections. Along with the Gauchos' six first teamers, midfielders Tyler Rosenlund and Nate Boyden were named All-Big West Second Team, garnering them the first all-conference honors of their careers.