As the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team approaches their first playoff game this Wednesday in the NCAA Tournament, one can't help but hope for them to make it to the College Cup.
Throughout the 2003 season, UCSB has proven to be a determined and strong team, with an even stronger personality. Personality seems to be a key component in keeping this team in check and on the path to victory.
With the arrival of two very distinct players in 2002, midfielders Memo Arzate and David McGill, the Gauchos were able to fight their way into their first-ever NCAA tournament, advancing into the second round. You may be asking yourself what does personality have to do with winning a NCAA Championship. Well, when you're talking about Memo and Gilla, as their teammates and friends call them, the answer is EVERYTHING. It only takes one game to see the emotion and talent that dominates the field when these two players take to the pitch.
In person, their somewhat intimidating composure subsides while having a heart to heart about the unexpected connection both players have on and off the field. One can't help but laugh when talking to an overwhelmingly animated and outspoken McGill, followed by a most soft spoken and reserved Arzate. No doubt, each have their own style of playing, but either way it keeps UCSB making progress towards becoming a contender on the national scene.
"I'm a different kind of player. [In the US] it's more based on technique, your physical appearance and stamina. Where I'm from you play with your heart. You play tough. You play strong. You play fair. I'm more of a tough style of player," McGill stated. Coming from Dublin, Ireland, McGill wears his Irish heart on his sleeve as you see him respond to anything with an immense sense of emotion during the games. "I go out and play with my heart and if players want to take a lead from that they can. It can be contagious," admits McGill.
Looking at UCSB's statistics, one can see that the Memo/McGill partnership has produced a lot of the assists through the past two years. Their teamwork paid off as Memo was recently dubbed the Big West Co-Offensive Player of the Year. This huge honor came on the heels of setting the conferece's record for career assists...in only two years at UCSB. McGill ranks second in the Big West for assists by a player in two seasons.
When speaking of the help they give each other, Memo says, "Sometimes I give [McGill] little tips and he always takes them right away. He really listens to what I have to say. We have a great relationship."
Both players met last year as transfers coming onto a team on the rise, living together as roommates. Despite their diverse ethnic backgrounds, Memo was raised in both Mexico and Southern California, both found they had a lot in common. "Our goals are the same. We both want to win bad," Arzate said.
When asked how they felt about an NCAA Tournament, unsurprisingly their responses were the same. The Gauchos are very excited to be returning to the tournament and are ready to leave their mark. Both Arzate and McGill hoped to face Cal Wednesday night to avenge the loss the Gauchos took last year at the hands of the Golden Bears in the second round. Sure enough, the Memo/McGill partnership will be looked upon to come through again.