For a squad that hasn’t won in its last four matches, the red hot UCSB men’s soccer team is not the most desirable opponent.
But for Sacramento State, that nightmare becomes a reality Sunday as the undefeated Gauchos head north to Sacramento to play the Hornets at 2:30 p.m. at Hornet Soccer field.
Since its 1-1 double overtime tie against San Jose State in the first game of the season, Santa Barbara has rattled off six straight victories, vaulting into the No. 10 spot in the national polls. Keying this perfect run for the Gauchos has been junior goalkeeper Danny Kennedy who has not allowed a goal since UCSB defeated Michigan State 2-1 Sept. 12. That is a stretch of 305:21 without allowing a goal.
On offense, the Gauchos feature the three point leaders in the Big West in junior forward Drew McAthy (1st, 12 points) and senior midfielders Memo Arzate and Neil Jones, who are tied for second with 11 points. Jones has been hot as of late, tallying points in each of the last three games with two goals and one assist. McAthy and Jones have contributed to all but three of Santa Barbara’s goals this season.
The team has been playing newcomers like freshmen midfielders Johnny Alcaraz, Greg Curry, Jeff Murphy and Jon Claydon a lot recently, and the diverse lineup should continue against a struggling Sacramento State team.
Sacramento State has struggled offensively, and hasn’t scored a goal since the first half of a 2-1 loss at Cal Poly on September 12. The Hornets don’t possess a big goal scoring threat, with four players tied for the team lead with one goal on the season. Sam Sneed provides the biggest Hornet offensive threat, with two assists and one goal on the year.
Sac State rotates goalkeepers, with Matt McDougall and Jeff Gibson splitting time. Yet McDougall has received the bulk of the minutes so far this season, and has two shutouts while allowing 1.15 goals per game.
The Gauchos defeated the Hornets 3-0 at home a year ago behind former UCSB star Rob Friend’s two goals and three assists from Arzate.