Nov. 27, 2003
The Record: Overall 16-4-1 Big West 7-3-0
2003 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Champioships
Third Round - Sweet 16
Sunday, November 30th
No. 11 UC Santa Barbara
16-4-1 (7-3-0) 2nd - Big West
No. 5 St. John's Univeristy
14-5-3 (8-2-0) 2nd - Big East
12:00 p.m. (EST) at St. John's Belson Stadium
*The match will be broadcast/webcast live on KCSB 91.9 FM/www.kcsb.org
That Unusual Suspects
Sometimes nothing tastes better than a little revenge, and that's just what the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team dished out in the second round of the NCAA Tournament agianst the visiting University of California. After losing to Cal in the second round last year in Berkeley, the Gauchos turned the tables on the Golden Bears, knocking them out of the championships with a 2-0 victory and advancing UCSB into if first ever Sweet 16. Seeded 11th in the tournament and having received a first round bye, the Gauchos didn't skip a beat or show any rust from the week and a half break, but it wasn't UCSB's usual offensive weapons that ultimately proved firing on all cylinders. With the exception of senior playmaker Memo Arzate, all of the Gauchos' scoring was done by their defenders. Freshman Jeff Murphy ended up being credited with the game-winner, his second of the season, when he redirected junior Jon Apilado's rocket from the top of the box early in the first half. Apilado fired off the shot after receiving a corner kick from Arzate. And UCSB's insurance goal in the 50th minute was a direct result of the Apilado as well. The junior from Fairfield single-handedly dribbled through three defenders down the right side, pulling the keeper off his line. Now with the net wide-open, Apilado slipped a pass to a hard charging Tony Lochhead who burried into the back of the net before the defense could react, for his second goal of the season. With the win the Gauchos ran their home NCAA Touranment record to 2-0, and their overall postseason record to 2-1, while earning the right to face No. 5 St. John's in New York.
Battle of the Bigs: West vs. East
Seeded 5th in the NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championships, St. John's University boasts a 14-5-3 overall record against one of the top schedules in 2003. Ranked sixth in the nation, the Red Storm finished second in the Big East Conference after losing to third-rankd Notre Dame in the conference tournament finals. St. John's advanced to the third round of the tourney by downing Big East foe UConn on penalty kicks. With the score 0-0 after the end of the two overtime periods the Red Storm prevailed 4-2 on the free kicks. St. John's has outscored its opponents 41-20 this season, just one goal shy of UCSB's 42-20 margin. Led by senior forward Simone Salinno's 12 goals and 27 points, the Red Storm has five players with three or more goals. Junior forward Matt Groenwald's five tallies are the second most on the squad, while his nine assists are a team-high. In between the pipes for St. John's Bill Gaudette's 0.73 goals against average stands as one of the top-30 in the nation. The senior netminder has also blanked seven opponents this season, although he has not been tested much, in 17 matches he has only have to make 30 saves. This Sunday's third round meeting will be the first ever between the two schools, and the winner will go on to host the winner of Virginia-Creighton in the elite eight.
The Best Two-Year Twosome Ever in the Big West
It isn't very often that you can claim something to be the best ever, but playmaker Memo Arzate and midfielder David McGill have left little doubt as to just how good they are. Arzate, this year's Big West Co-Offensive Player of the Year and two-time first team all-conference honoree, is the Big West's all-time assists king. Currently with 36, the senior from Hawaiian Gardens broke the previous mark of 31, set over a four-year span, in under two seasons. Named Second Team All-Far West last year after setting both the UCSB and Big West single season assist record with 18, Arzate matched his 2002 total in the week's match against Cal.. One of this year's team co-captians, McGill has put together two of the best back-to-back seasons ever by a Gaucho midfielder. Second only to Arzate, the Dubliner has amassed 22 assists in his two seasons at UCSB, sixth all-time in Big West history, and the second most ever by a two year player. After finishing second in the nation last year averaging 0.86 assists per game, Arzate is currently ahead of last year's mark, leading the nation at 0.89 assists per game. And McGill, who finished sixth in the nation in 2002, is just one assist shy of breaking into the nation's top-25 while playing a more defensive role since the start of conference play. No matter how you put it the tandem of Memo and McGill is one of the best you will ever see in Big West men's soccer.
Not in my Box
Junior goalkeeper Dan Kennedy has returned to his unfriendly ways, minding the UCSB penalty box. In his three seasons as a Gaucho, Kennedy has continued to establish himself as one of the best collegiate goalkeepers in the nation. Currently sporting an outstanding 0.95 career goals against average, the Yorba Linda native has ended every season with a GAA below 1.00. Now with 21 complete game shutouts to his credit, Kennedy stands in third in both the Big West and UCSB record books needing just one more blanking to tied for second all-time at UC Santa Barbara. Having appeared in more matches in goal, 60, than any other previous Gaucho keeper, Kennedy has posted to most wins in school history with 42 in his three seasons. Ninth in Big West career saves with 203, Kennedy tends to be more proactive than reactive with goalkeeping, so his save numbers are not as high as some others. But if there were a statistic for picking off crosses and passes that come into the box, Kennedy would without a doubt be amongst the tops in the nation. And his reactive skills ain't bad either. In the Gauchos' 1-0 double overtime win at UC Irvine, Kennedy came up with two point blank diving saves the squelch the Anteaters' offensive attacks and match his career-high with his seven shutout of the season. And most recently in the Cal match, his third postseason appearance between the pipes, the Yorba Linda native made six saves, enroute to his eighth complete game shutout of the season, setting a new career-high.
He's Smart, and he Scores
As if his on-field accomplishments this season have not been enough, senior forward Neil Jones was named Third Team Academic All-American this past week. Jones, who was joined on the region's academic first team by teammate Tony Lochhead, became the first men's soccer player in UCSB history to receive the honor. In the classroom, the senior from Auckland, New Zealand is slated to receive a BA in Geography after just three years at UC Santa Barbara. Jones was just one of four players selected from the west coast to one of the three teams.