The #14 UCSB men’s soccer team will finish up arguably its best regular season in school history on what is sure to be a special Senior Night this Saturday against UC Irvine.
The match starts at 7 p.m. at Harder Stadium and numerous Gaucho records could fall during the contest.
“I typed out all the records we could break and showed them to the team,” UCSB Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “I told them we’ve got one game left so let’s try to break these things.”
If senior forward Rob Friend can nail home goal #18 on Saturday, he can tie a 20-year-old team record set by Scott Grassinger for most goals in a season. Junior midfielder Memo Arzate is one assist away from breaking former Gaucho Eric Price’s record of 17 back in 1982. Not only did Santa Barbara win at Fullerton for the first time since the mid-1980s, the Gauchos also tied a team record of 16 wins in a season, also set by the 1982 team.
“[The win against CSUF] was a huge momentum boost for us,” Vom Steeg said. “If there is one place we were going to lose, it was Fullerton. They had to win that game to get into the playoffs.”
Irvine has not enjoyed the same thrill of success that the Gauchos have this season. After coming in second in the Big West a year ago, the Anteaters (8-7-4, 3-3-3 in the Big West) have slipped to fourth this year. Sophomore forward Lerato Simelane leads UCI with seven goals on the year, followed by sophomore midfielder Dardo Acuna and freshman forward Sean Iliff, both with four goals each.
The Anteaters, however, have had their share of bad luck this year. On Oct. 26th, one of the two team vans was involved in an auto accident en route to Riverside for a match. Six players were injured when the UCI van and another vehicle made contact while the van was making the transition from the 73 Freeway to the 55 Freeway North.
“They are a solid team overall,” senior midfielder and co-captain Dan Young said. ” They had a tough year with the accident though and dropped a little bit.”
Unless Santa Barbara gets a home game when playoff seedings come out Monday, this will be the last time Friend, Young and senior defenseman Brandon Meeks will be playing at Harder Stadium for the Gauchos.
“I’m excited because of Senior Day,” Young said. “I’ve been through three before and finally it’s my turn.”
Santa Barbara (16-2-1, 8-0-1) can close out the season undefeated both at home and in the Big West for the first time since 1983 with a win against the Anteaters.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised with our overall record,” Vom Steeg said. “I didn’t think any team could go through our schedule and win 16 or 17 games like we have.”