The Gauchos allowed the most goals they’ve given up all year against New Mexico on Sunday – three. But the Gauchos achieved their highest goal total of the year also. Fortunately for the Gauchos, the two marks occurred on the same day.
Santa Barbara can’t play games like this throughout the season. Realistically, six goals in a game is an exception and not a rule, and if Santa Barbara plans to continue its success, giving up three goals must be a rare occurrence.
UCSB did however have a rather significant hole in its defense Sunday. Junior sweeper Tony Lochhead was MIA due to duties to his native country of New Zealand. Lochhead traveled to Iran over the weekend for an Olympic qualifying match.
New Zealand lost 3-0, but the opportunity to play in front of 60,000 screaming fans will not soon be forgotten by the 2002 Second Team All-Big West defender who started and played the entire game for his nation.
“It was a pretty awesome experience. I got to play against some of the best players in the world; they had all of their European guys playing, so yeah, it was pretty incredible,” Lochhead said.
UCSB takes the field this afternoon at Riverside, and with Lochhead back on the field with the Gauchos, junior goalkeeper Danny Kennedy should be able to breathe tranquilly in the net.
Lochhead and the rest of the Gaucho defense will be asked to impede the momentum that junior Luc Harrington and the Highlanders are riding. The Highlanders this year sport a vastly improved team from their 4-12-4 2002 campaign. Riverside stands at 5-4-1 (1-0-1 Big West) and have reason to believe they can compete in the Big West because of Harrington.
Harrington, along with Gaucho senior forward Neil Jones, earned Big West’s Player of the Week honors this week.
Jones scored twice Sunday in the Gauchos win over New Mexico, and is tied for the team lead in goals with fellow forward junior Drew McAthy at eight. For UCSB, success means that these two score early and often.
“If Drew’s going, then he will attract attention, which opens up the field for Neil and Memo [Arzate]. You hate to put it on one guy, but when Drew plays well, we usually win,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said.
Looming in the back of UCSB’s minds will be Saturday’s game against Cal State Northridge, a team the Gauchos have historically had problems against. But make no mistake, Riverside is on the top of the Gauchos’ priority list.
“All these teams we’ve been playing play a 4-4-2,” Jones said. “Riverside kind of packs it in so we’re going to try and put them away right off the bat.
“This year, Riverside is a lot better, and we know that any team can beat any team on any given day, so we’re going to come out strong,” Jones said.