With the way Santa Barbara is playing to open the season, it may be difficult to schedule games next season.
Once again off to an undefeated start, the Gauchos disposed of nonconference opponent Sacramento State 3-0 at Hornet Stadium on Sunday. Santa Barbara is one win away from matching last year’s eight-game winning streak to begin the season.
The Gauchos jumped up 1-0 at 36:52 when senior midfielder Memo Arzate blasted home his fourth goal of the season with assists from sophomore midfielder Corey Wood and senior midfielder David McGill. With the goal, Arzate matched his UCSB career high of four goals from a season ago. McGill’s assist put him tied for first with Arzate for the Big West lead in assists. However, that lead was to be short-lived.
Santa Barbara took the lead into halftime while completely outplaying the Hornets. Sacramento State managed only four shots on goal in the first half, compared to 12 by the Gauchos. The Hornets’ day would only get worse from there.
Only ten seconds into the second half, senior forward Neil Jones knocked in his fifth goal of the season with an assist from Memo Arzate. The assist was Arzate’s sixth of the season, putting him one ahead of McGill.
The Gauchos put the nail in the Hornet’s coffin in the 70th minute on Jones’ second goal of the game. With the goal, Jones tied junior forward Drew McAthy for the team lead, who ironically assisted on the play. The two players are tied at six and are also tied for first atop the Big West Conference in goals.
Jones, who has already scored more goals this season (6) than in his previous two years at UCSB (5), is having a breakout season. He has established himself as one of the top-scoring threats in the country, and as the tallest player on the team, at 6’4″ and 200 lbs., he provides a big target for his teammates to feed the ball to.
With their fourth consecutive shutout, Santa Barbara matched their four-game streak from a season ago that extended from Nov. 13 against Fullerton to Nov. 23 in a playoff win against San Diego. The Gauchos already have five shutouts on the season, with three months of soccer still to play. UCSB finished last season with ten shutouts, including six against conference opponents.
Junior goalkeeper Dan Kennedy has been phenomenal all season long. He is currently on a streak of 390:21 minutes without allowing a goal, with the last goal against him on Sept. 12 against Michigan State. Kennedy is third in Gaucho history for most shutouts in a career with 18, trailing current Goalkeeper Coach Ryan Sparre who is in second with 22 career shutouts. Kennedy’s goals against average is now under .250, giving up a goal once every four games, which puts him far ahead in the Big West.
Kennedy wasn’t challenged often, due in large part to the ineptitude of the Hornet offense. No player for Sacramento State has more than one goal on the season, and their lack of offense was apparent in Sunday’s game.
The Hornets only got 6 shots on goal, and only two in the second half, compared to the Gauchos’ 22 for the game. Kennedy only needed to make two saves, one in each half, throughout the contest.
Sacramento State wasn’t as fortunate in goals. Hornet goalkeeper Matt McDougal was pulled in the second half in favor of Jeff Gibson after allowing two goals on seven shots. Gibson, however, was unable to stop Santa Barbara’s red-hot offense, allowing a goal only five minutes after he was brought in.
With the win, the Gauchos improved to 7-0-1 overall while Sacramento State fell to 2-6-1.
Santa Barbara hosts Loyola Marymount on Oct. 5 at 5 p.m in Harder Stadium. LMU ended the Gauchos’ eight-game winning streak to start the season a year ago, with a 1-0 win in Los Angeles.