Despite popular belief, football is alive and well at UCSB.

In fact, in four games, the UCSB football team hasn’t allowed a point, disposed of the 21st- and 30th-ranked teams in the country and ascended to the #3 slot in a highly regarded national poll.

And before you spill your Irish coffee, lamenting, “But UCSB doesn’t have a football team,” realize that I am referring to the sport that the rest of the world refers to as football. America calls it soccer, and here at UCSB it will soon be called the best show in town.

The 2004 edition of Gaucho soccer is off to its third-best start ever, and it is scary to think how good they could become. As for the present, they will know how good they really are come Saturday when they will face the top-ranked Indiana Hoosiers in Albuquerque as part of the New Mexico Lobos Classic.

The #1-versus-#3 showdown in the desert will certainly have the feel of a postseason game, and if the pollsters know anything, it might just be a College Cup preview.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. So far, though, the Gauchos have done an excellent job of not getting ahead of themselves. Despite having Indiana in their imminent future, the Gauchos rose to a similar occasion a week ago – on the opposite side of the country, mind you – when they beat not one, but two ranked opponents in as many days. Both #21 Seton Hall and #30 UConn found out just how good this growing Big West monster has become. And what they really must have been muttering to themselves is, “Damn, damn, damn that Danny Kennedy.”

The Gaucho senior goalkeeper has been perfect thus far, and while the national and regional accolades start to pour in for him and his defense, he will still have to prove himself again and again, and it starts this weekend.

No matter how you look at it, this weekend’s game will be the biggest for Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg’s program. A win would likely mean a #1 ranking and a turn of the tide in college soccer, and this Gaucho team has been around Santa Barbara long enough to know how oceans work.