Thus far in the #5 UCSB men’s soccer unprecedented 2003 season, much has been made about the tremendous trio of seniors Memo Arzate, Neil Jones and junior Drew McAthy.
Don’t believe the hype?
The three have been producing goals at an alarming rate this year. Jones and McAthy are responsible for 20 of the 28 UCSB goals while Arzate has just been flat-out preposterous, having handed out 13 assists and amassing four goals, all the while helping one of the top defenses in the country.
Since arriving last year as a junior transfer from Compton College, Arzate has accumulated 31 assists in nearly as many games. His subsequent 0.96 assists per game average is the best such mark the NCAA has ever witnessed.
The nation is aware of Arzate as he was placed on the College Soccer News Team of the Week and recognized as the Big West Player of the Week, but opponents have failed to contain the relentless playmaker.
Amongst those teams was Cal Poly (4-4-3 overall, 1-2-1 Big West). In its sixth game of the season, Santa Barbara blanked the Mustangs while Arzate tallied a goal and an assist at Harder Stadium.
This time, the Gauchos, who boast a five-game winning streak over their coastal rivals, must travel to San Luis Obispo.
“Cal Poly is one of the toughest places to play. There are football lines everywhere and they usually have a pretty rowdy crowd that likes to heckle,” Jones said.
Now that UCSB is the heavy favorite to take the conference crown after having beaten Northridge, Santa Barbara’s incentive to beat Cal Poly is to elevate its playoff position.
“We know we’re one loss away from dropping out of the top 10. If we can stay in the top 10, we’ll probably get a home game and a bye in the playoffs,” Jones said. “We remember the feeling last year of playing in front of 5,000 people, and we don’t want to lose that chance of doing the same this year.”
To the Gauchos’ surprise, senior midfielder David McGill, who suffered a severe high ankle sprain two weeks ago, will be ready to play tonight should Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg need him.
“Dave’s going to see minutes [tonight]; his recovery has been remarkable,” Vom Steeg said. “That’s another thing – when you talk about our prospects, we’re starting to get our injured guys back, which is going to make us very tough to beat.
“We know with one loss, everyone is back in it. It’s never been our goal to go undefeated in league; we just kind of figured it might happen. It’s too bad that we’re not five points up in our eighth game instead of our third game.”