UCSB Prepares to Host Virginia Commonwealth in NCAA Championship Quarterfinal Match Saturday at Harder Stadium
Dec. 2, 2004
This Week's Schedule
NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship Quarterfinals
Saturday, December 4
No. 1 UC Santa Barbara (19-2-1) vs. No. 22 Virginia Commonwealth (12-5-3)
Harder Stadium Santa Barbara, Calif.
Kickoff 7:00 p.m.
Broadcast live on KCSB 91.9 FM or webcast on www.kcsb.org
Best In The Nation
Playing in its first ever NCAA Tournament Elite Eight this weekend, top-ranked UC Santa Barbara became the winningest team in program history in last weekend's Sweet 16 when it bumped this year's win total to 19, the most by any team in Division I this season. Improving its overall record to 19-2-1 on the season, this year's squad, still with the opportunity to put up three more wins, is one win better than the 2002 squad that finished the 18-3-1. Currently sporting a .886 won-loss-tied percentage, the second highest mark in the nation, the Gauchos have posted 16-plus wins in each of the last three seasons for a combined three-year record of 53-10-3 entering Sunday's NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal match.
Virginia Commonwealth Game Capsule
Ranked 22nd in the NSCAA/adidas coaches' poll, and as high as 15th in the College Soccer News Top 30, Virginia Commonwealth enters this weekend's Elite Eight match as the No. 16 seed in the tournament. Coming off of an upset victory over top-seed Wake Forest, the Rams came from behind to tie the match 2-2 in pouring rain, and then used a 7-6 advantage in penalty kicks to advance. At 12-5-3 overall on the season, VCU won the Colonial Athletic Association regular season title with a 7-1-1 conference record.
Saturday's quarterfinal match will be the first ever meeting between the two institutions, and in fact the game also marks the first time in program history that the Rams have traveled west of the Mississippi to play a match. VCU is led offensively by Dominic Oduro with 15 goals and one assist, including both of the Rams tallies against Wake Forest in last week's Sweet 16. Between the pipes Saul Montero has put together a 0.87 goals against average on the season with six shutouts to boot. In last Saturday's third round match, Montero made two saves against the Demon Deacons during penalty kicks to advance the Rams to their first ever Elite Eight match.
Saturday's winner will advance to their programs first ever College Cup.
They Had 10 Men
UCSB's win at UNC Greensboro to advance to this week's Elite Eight was not only amazing because it shutout the nation's top-ranked offense, upsetting the 8th-seeded Spartans on their own turf, but the Gauchos did so with only ten men. Well with only ten men for all but six minutes. I am not sure if the NCAA keeps and official stat of this nature, but I would venture to guess that UCSB's surviving 88 minutes of playing short-handed to go on and win an NCAA Tournament match is somewhere near the top all-time. Overall this season the Gauchos have posted a 1-1-1 record in games that they finished playing a man down, and if you include UCSB's 1-0 overtime win over then top-ranked Indiana where the game ended with ten men on both sides, it has posted a 2-1-1 record in games that they have played a portion of the match short-handed.
Apparently the UCSB men's soccer team just likes to make its games exciting for its fans, that or it wants to test all of their blood pressures. Each of the Gauchos' last three matches have gone into over time, which includes their two do-or-die NCAA Tournament games. However, in those two tournament games that have gone into extra-time UCSB has dominated its opposition, leaving fans to wonder not if they are going to win, but more when are they going to win. Against Wisconsin-Milwaukee the Gauchos outshot the Panthers 19-to-7, and at UNC Greensboro, despite playing with just ten men since the six minute mark, UCSB outshot the nation's top-rated offense 10-to-5. During the regular season Santa Barbara went posted a 4-0-1 record in overtime matches for an overall mark of 6-0-1 in extra time. Senior Matt Bly performed the latest of the Gaucho heroics netting the golden goal for his second tally of the season. Senior forward Neil Jones leads the team with two golden goals (UC Davis, @ UC Irvine), Bly, sophomore forward Tino Nuñez, and defenders Andy Iro and Pat Scott have each netted one.
A Monumental Weekend
The Gauchos accomplished a trio of program firsts when they overcame 88 minutes of man down play to down UNCG last weekend, improving their overall tourney record to 4-2. First and foremost top-ranked UCSB advanced to its first-ever NCAA Tournament Elite Eight, improving upon last season's finish in the Sweet 16. Secondly, the Gauchos picked up their first road win in NCAA Tournament play. And third, Santa Barbara's win in Greensboro marked the first time that it won a tournament match as the visiting team. And altough last week's win was monumental in itself, the Gauchos are not satisfied just with moving on farther than they ever have before, there is a ring to be won on December 12th that they have been eyeing all season.
Saving It For The Dance
It was only fitting that junior defender Pat Scott netted UCSB's golden goal against UWM on the NCAA Tournament stage, rewarding his outstanding defensive effort over the course of the last two months. In addition to it being Scott's first career goal, it 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 ten goals scored in tourney play, three have been scored by defenders and three others have been assisted by players out of the back.
Since losing their only two games of the season back-to-back after starting the year out at a school record 11-0-1, the Gauchos have won eight straight to establish the longest active winning streak in the nation. With four of those coming against teams that were ranked nationally at the time, and six coming by way of shutout, defense has been Santa Barbara's key to success riding into and through the tournament, only once over the course of their eight-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 eight matches has it allowed more than two shots on goal, limiting its opponent to an average of just 1.88 shots on goal and 6.5 overall. On the flip side the Gaucho offense has averaged 6.38 shots on goal, and 15.13 overall on its current streak. And proving that those performances have not come against "patty-cake" offenses, UCSB limited UWM in its second round match 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. And last week the Gauchos shutout the nation's top-ranked offense in UNC Greensboro, holding the Spartans scoreless and limiting them to just five shots overall and two on frame, all while playing with only ten men. UNCG had been netting on average 2.60 goals per contest off of 14.5 shots per game, 8.1 per match on frame.
Some Kined Of First Impression
When the Gauchos and Rams square off on Saturday 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 five opponents for the first time in program history, UConn, Seton Hall, Columbia, UWM, and UNCG, and after each game UCSB has walked away with a W, including two in this year's NCAA Tourney.
The Stuff That Wins Championships
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 14 shutouts. Averaging 0.62 per contest, second 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 0.52 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 eleven 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 ten 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 .857 save percentage.
The Chips Get Bigger
UC Santa Barbara headed into this year's NCAA Tournament, its third consecutive, ranked No. 1 in the nation in both the NSCAA/adidas coaches' poll and the College Soccer News media 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 nation's 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 only other team the achieve the No. 1 spot in the NSCAA poll over the final seven weeks of the regular season, UNC Greensboro, the team the Gauchos downed 1-0 with only ten men to advance to this week's Elite Eight.
How The Seed Was Planted
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 in the regular season 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.
Attacking On All Fronts
Senior forwards Drew McAthy and Neil Jones have made up for a bulk of the Santa Barbara scoring, 63 of its 141 points, the remaining 78 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, 16 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 in the second round, and sophomore forward Tino Nuñez join McAthy and Jones with double-digit goal totals. Of those four, the Gauchos' three leading goal scorers, McAthy, Jones, and Davis, are all shooting .197 or better after 22 games. Jones also paces the Gaucho attack with a team leading eight assists, including one on the game-winner against UWM, while Nuñez and defender Tony Lochhead are second on the team with six assists apiece.
The two staples of UCSB's stout defense over the last four years, defender Tony Lochhead and goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, have both been selected to participate in next month's MLS Player Combine held at the Home Depot Center from January 8th through the 11th. Lochhead and Kennedy join former Gaucho and current Portland Timber Memo Arzate, who made a stellar showing last season at the event, as the only three players in program history to do participate in the collegiate player showcase. However, missing from the list are forwards Drew McAthy and Neil Jones who have combined over the last two seasons to put together one of the top offenses in the nation. Although they do not have the same numbers as some of the other forwards selected, both players have been a part of a very broad offensive attack that has many weapons as opposed to one that focuses on just one or two players.
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 Conference's 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.