A year ago today, the # 9 UCSB men’s soccer team was barreling through the Big West with ease, undefeated after five games and going nowhere but up.

Today, virtually the same team (minus All-Everything forward Rob Friend), appears to be headed in the absolute opposite direction. Since their loss to LMU Oct. 5, the Gauchos have hit a slippery slope.

Unlike the Gauchos of last year, it’s anybody’s guess as to which team shows up to play now. Lately, UCSB has looked like a team in desperate need of a Friend.

After losing to Fullerton Saturday, Irvine came to Santa Barbara and did the unthinkable by beating the Gauchos at home, the first time that’s happened in 11 Big West matches.

The supposed ninth best team in the country, according to Soccer Times, will fall fast in the rankings if they don’t reverse their current trend. Not since the 2000 season has Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg and company lost two straight games, and that team went 8-10-1.

If Santa Barbara has any real postseason desires, now is the time to get the ball rolling into the back of the net. And he who is in charge of taking charge of games has been, and will be, the central determining factor to UCSB’s success.

Enter traditionally reliable junior forward Drew McAthy, this year’s All-Everything. In his first 12 games, McAthy quickly amassed 11 goals and proportionately, the Gauchos went 10-1-1. Since then, the forward has had a three-game dry spell that could turn into a UCSB downward spiral should he not recover.

What has Vom Steeg most concerned is the fact that the Gauchos are shooting off frame. Their shots are ending up wide left, wide right, and far above the cross bar, denying themselves of any chance for a rebound or a misplay.

Of the Gauchos’ 11 shots Wednesday, only three warranted a play from Irvine goalkeeper Cameron Rossi, and the former statistic is just as pathetic as the latter.

Seeing as today is Halloween, perhaps the Gauchos will dress up like the team that won 10 of 12 to earn a #5 national ranking and shed their recent ugly disguise at 5 p.m. at Harder Stadium against the University of San Francisco.