The Gauchos don’t believe in deju vu.
The #14 UCSB men’s soccer team handily pummeled Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday night at Fullerton 2-0. Santa Barbara evened its record at Titan Stadium to 1-1 in 2002 after then #1 University of Indiana stopped the Gauchos 3-1 on Oct. 27.
The Gauchos clinched the outright Big West title for the second year in a row. Even with a win this weekend, second place Cal State Northridge cannot catch up to Santa Barbara.
With the victory, UCSB needs only a tie or win against UC Irvine on Saturday at Harder Stadium to complete an unbeaten run through Big West competition. Santa Barbara has just one tie in nine conference games. The Gauchos tied Cal State Northridge 0-0 in double overtime on Oct. 19 on the road.
Sophomore forward Drew McAthy scored the game’s first goal in the 12th minute. Junior midfielder David McGill fired a shot on goal off Titan goalkeeper Sam Reynolds’ hands, creating an open net rebound opportunity that McAthy easily took advantage of. McAthy leads the Gauchos in Big West games with seven goals and one assist for 15 points.
Less than 22 minutes later, the Gauchos added some cushioning. Senior forward Rob Friend, the 2001 Big West Offensive Player of the Year, scored his 17th goal of the season. McGill got in the action again, tallying his second assist of the night. McGill passed the ball to junior midfielder and All-American candidate Memo Arzate who rifled a shot that deflected to Friend who put shot away inside the left post.
Santa Barbara sophomore goalkeeper Danny Kennedy recorded another shutout in the 2-0 victory. Kennedy recorded six saves on 12 shots by the Titans. Kennedy enjoyed his eighth shutout of the 2002 season.
The Gauchos have dominated the Big West this year, outscoring its opponents 26-5, including five shutouts. Over the last two seasons, Santa Barbara has garnered 15 wins in 19 possible Big West matches, having not lost a game at home. UCSB improved to 8-0-1 in conference and 16-2-1 overall.
Santa Barbara has enjoyed its share of good news this week. In addition to clinching the Big West championship, several Gauchos continued to receive accolades. For the first time in his career, Arzate was named Big West Player of the Week yesterday. After scoring the game-winning goal against CSUN and adding an assist on the game-winning goal to clinch the Big West title at UC Riverside, Arzate also earned a spot on College Soccer News’ National Team of the Week for the second time this season.
Freshman defender Alan Keely became the first Gaucho to be named to Soccer America’s National Team of the Week. Keely, a native of Dublin, Ireland, scored his first career goal against Cal Poly after running coast-to-coast across the field.
The Gauchos host Irvine on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Harder Stadium. It will be the last regular season and home game for seniors Friend, Brandon Meeks, and Dan Young.
-Nexus Staff Report