After ending the Big West season undefeated, the 2002 UCSB men’s soccer team proved that it was a force on the West Coast. In 2003, two members of that team look to prove they are the best in the world.

The New Zealand under-23 national team called senior midfielder Neil Jones and junior defender Tony Lochhead for an upcoming match against Japan on March 21. Jones and Lochhead are both veterans of international competition with the national team.

Before coming to UCSB, Jones qualified for the under-20 World Cup and reached the under-17 World Cup Finals with the New Zealand national squad. The defender transferred to UCSB from Otago University for the 2001 season. Jones tallied two goals and three assists last season before succumbing to an ankle injury that limited him to 15 games. Jones returned to the team for the playoffs.

Lochhead was a member of New Zealand’s under-16 and under-17 national teams. In 2001, Tony was named second-team All-Big West after playing in all but 15 minutes in his first season as a Gaucho. Lochhead spearheaded a Santa Barbara defense that posted nine shutouts including a 2-0 win over San Diego for the school’s first-ever postseason victory.

Lochhead and Jones are two of four international players returning from last year’s squad. Senior midfielder David McGill and sophomore defender Alan Keely have also helped the Gauchos earn two straight Big West Conference titles and their first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.