At 6’4″ and 200 pounds with the soccer skills of a veteran starter, it’s hard not to mistake Andy Iro for an upperclassman. Yet, the Liverpool, England native was merely a rookie on the UCSB men’s soccer team in 2004.
In his first season with the team, Iro earned a starting spot in the Gaucho defense that recorded 15 shutouts and a .53 goals against average, helping take the team to its first ever appearance in the College Cup. After UCSB lost the national title to Indiana University by one penalty kick, the awards poured in for Iro.
“The goal was always to be an All-American and to win games,” Iro said. “We got as close as we could to winning it all.”
Following the final, Iro – along with seniors forward Drew McAthy, keeper Danny Kennedy and defender Tony Lochhead – was named to the 2004 College Cup All-Tournament Team. He also attained his All-American goal, garnering Freshman All-American honors from Soccer America, College Soccer News and Top Drawer Soccer.
Despite holding down the center fullback position with Santa Barbara all season long, Iro’s large frame made him a perfect target for offensive corner kicks. He found the back of the net four times in 2004, netting two goals in the Gauchos’ 4-1 Elite 8 win over Virginia Commonwealth University – which attracted over 11,000 fans.
“The VCU win was my favorite memory. It wasn’t even so much the goals – it was just the end of the game. It was ridiculous,” Iro said. “At the end of the game, some guy came over to me and handed me his baby and wanted me to take a picture with his baby.”
Now that Iro has tasted success with UCSB, he doesn’t intend on being satisfied with a second-place finish.
“Next year, personally, I can’t look any lower than being an All-American again,” Iro said. “For the team, once you get to the final and lose on [penalty kicks], we have to win it next year and convincingly. That’s definitely a goal and a realistic one, as well.”