UCSB men’s soccer coach Tim Vom Steeg was sitting on a gold mine.

In his first year playing for the UCSB men’s soccer team, Drew McAthy would let the game come to him, to the dismay of his coaches. As an attacking midfielder, he was awkwardly patient, and Vom Steeg, being the apparent visionary he is, made a change.

“He would sit all game waiting to put one in the back of the net, so even though he scored goals his first year, things didn’t quite fit for us,” Vom Steeg said. “So we decided we were going to make him a forward and work with him on that and stay after him in terms of making him a multi-faceted player.”

Little did Vom Steeg know, that change would turn into quite the cash crop for the Gauchos. As the senior forward approaches the all-time UCSB scoring record, Vom Steeg is pleasantly surprised at the way things have turned out for his stud striker.

“I think I would have been [surprised], not because of his talent but only because we struggled so much his first year trying to get him to change his game a bit,” Vom Steeg said.

Not only has McAthy grown into one of the premier goal scorers in the land, he has matured into a leader who insists on deflecting all his accolades to his partners in crime.

“I’ve got to dedicate a lot of it to the opportunities I’m getting from my teammates,” McAthy said. “It makes it a lot easier on me when I’m not having to go the goals myself.”

Now sitting with 45 career goals, one shy of Scott Grassinger’s mark that has stood since 1983, McAthy has come a long way from his humble beginnings at UCSB.

“He was so good at the club level, just very comfortable and able to score goals kind of at will,” Vom Steeg said. “He was an attacking midfielder and when we tried him as an attacking midfielder at the Division I college game, he didn’t really fit. He was really a one-dimensional player.”

McAthy is currently the 11th best scorer in the nation with a goals-per-game average of 0.91, so if you subscribe to pace theories, the record should be his by the end of the week. His first opportunity will be today at Riverside, a team the Gauchos dismantled earlier in the year by a count of 3-0.

Over the hill, though, looms Northridge, a game the Gauchos have had circled on their calendars since last year when Northridge took the Big West crown away from Santa Barbara.

“The fact is we haven’t won there in four years. Most people don’t realize that we have two ties and a loss in three years,” Vom Steeg said. “If we can get a win or even a tie at their place, it really sets up well coming back at [our] place at the end of the year and that’s actually what happened to us last year. Even though we did beat them, we ended up having to play down there at the end of the year in a game that we lost 2-1.”