Former Gaucho Tony Lochhead made UCSB history this past month as the first alumnus to compete in the FIFA World Cup.

Lochhead, who graduated from the university in 2005, played for his native country, New Zealand. As a testament of his talent, Lochhead played the entire 90 minutes of the team’s first match against Slovakia and went on to start in the team’s following games.

As a defender for UCSB, Lochhead led the team to the 2004 National Collegiate Athletic Association in Carson, Calif. The Gauchos will host this year’s NCAA Men’s College Cup Final Four in December.

According to the Men’s Head Soccer Coach Tim Vom Steeg, Lochhead’s talent and drive for soccer is simply unmatched.

“Tony started in his first game as a freshman and played every minute of every game for four years,” Vom Steeg said. “He goes down as one of our top-10 players over the last 10 years. In 2004, his career culminated when he scored a goal in the semifinals against Duke. He is definitely of the best players we’ve had at UCSB.”

Lochhead has been a regular starter as left defender for the New Zealand All Whites for over five years. This year’s competition marked the team’s first World Cup invitation in the past 28 years.
UCSB Assistant Athletic Director William Mahoney echoed Vom Steeg’s sentiment and raved about Lochhead’s athleticism.

“He was an All-American player here and represented UCSB and New Zealand very well,” Mahoney said. “We’re extremely proud of him, that he not only [was] in the World Cup, but he played very well.”

During the match on June 15 against Slovakia, New Zealander forward Winston Reid scored in injury time, ending the game with a 1-1 draw. This goal earned New Zealand its first-ever point goal in the World Cup. Similarly, the Kiwis tied all three World Cup games this summer — including their match with Italy, the defending World Cup champion — but did not advance out of their bracket.

Even though the team finished in 22nd place, the Kiwis were the only team that didn’t lose a match at the competition.

Giving UCSB another reason to boast in the soccer arena, two incoming freshmen on the men’s soccer team have been recognized as ESPN RISE All-Americans.

Goalkeeper Eric Reyes was selected to the First Team, midfielder Jonathan Canales was chosen for the Second Team.

Reyes, a recent graduate from University High in Fort Lauderdale, Fl., is a member of the Puerto Rico Under-21 National Team pool and is being recognized for the third time by ESPN. Additionally, he scored one goal and four assists in his time on the field.

Furthermore, Canales, who is from JSerra High in San Juan Capistrano, has played for the Cal South Olympic Development Program team and the U.S. Under-17 National Team. He scored two goals and kicked six assists for JSerra this past season.

The UCSB 2010 soccer season begins at Harder Stadium against cross-town rivals Westmont College on August 21 at 7 p.m.