It’s so close they can taste it.
With a win tomorrow at Riverside, the #15 UCSB men’s soccer team will have officially cooked up its second consecutive Big West Conference title.
“It’s been a trademark of this team to show up every night and play hard,” UCSB Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “Saturday is special to us. Saturday is all about winning the Big West.”
The Gauchos all but confirmed their superiority in the Big West on Wednesday, tranquilizing second-place Cal State Northridge 4-2 to set up the seemingly foregone conclusion at the Highlanders’ Lower Field tomorrow at 1:00 p.m.
Earlier this season, the Gauchos easily disposed of the Highlanders, scoring five times and shutting out UCR at Harder Stadium on Oct. 16.
Also at stake for Santa Barbara this weekend will be its postseason draw. If the Gauchos can win tomorrow and their last two games of the season, they will hope to crack the top 16 and a bye in the first round of the playoffs. But first, there is the matter of the Big West.
“[Winning the Big West] was a goal going into the season but our main goal was getting into the playoffs and to go far in the playoffs,” senior forward Rob Friend said.
“We are very focused on what we have to do Saturday,” junior midfielder Matt Kubota said. “Our position in the playoffs depends on these last three games.”
In the duration of the Gauchos’ undefeated run in the Big West, they have maintained several national rankings in favorable categories. Just to name a few: third in margin of victories at 2.13, sixth in scoring offense at 3.13 goals per game and seventh in total goals with 50.
In the Big West, the Gauchos own a virtual monopoly in offensive categories (shots, goals, points, and assist) and lead the league in shutouts and margin of victory at +2.13.
As if UCSB wasn’t stacked with enough contributors, junior midfielder David McGill has stepped up recently for the Gauchos. McGill is currently tied for ninth in the nation with 0.63 assists per game and second in the Big West, behind fellow Gaucho and junior midfielder Memo Arzate.
Last week against Irvine, McGill sent three balls into the back of the net for his first career hat-trick, and Wednesday, the native of Dublin, Ireland added to his assist total on Arzate’s game-winning goal.