Before this week’s Blue-Green rivalry men’s soccer game between Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara (UCSB), Mustang News contacted UCSB’s student newspaper, Daily Nexus, for a Q&A. Mustang News sports editor Eric Stubben spoke via email with Daily Nexus’ sports editor Michael Jorgenson.
Cal Poly is 7-2-3 this year and 2-0-2 in Big West Conference play. The Mustangs haven’t lost a match since Sept. 18, going 3-0-2 in that span. UC Santa Barbara is 9-3-1 this season, featuring a 4-0 record in Big West Conference play. The Gauchos are on a five-game winning streak and play at Sacramento State before heading to Cal Poly on Saturday.
Eric Stubben: Nick DePuy was named College Soccer News National Player of the Week and Big West Player of the Week for his efforts two weeks ago. What has he meant to the Gauchos’ team this season?
Michael Jorgenson: Ever since switching from midfielder to forward midway through last season, DePuy has meant everything for the Gauchos. He’s led the nation in goals since making the switch and UCSB has gone undefeated (15-0-3) in games where he scores. He’s scored in five consecutive games, notching the game-winner in four. Basically, when he’s on, the Gauchos are really tough to stop.
ES: Other than DePuy, who are some UCSB players to look for this weekend?
MJ: Freshman forward Geoffrey Acheampong has been an exciting addition to the team this year. Already being a local star prior to becoming a Gaucho, every time he touches the ball the UCSB faithful already knows to be on the edge of its seat. He’s second on the team in points and can do it all on the offensive end.
Other players to watch are freshman goalkeeper Justin Vom Steeg, son of long-time head coach Tim Vom Steeg, and left back Ismaila Jome, one of the most dangerous wingers in the conference.
ES: The Gauchos have scored 13 goals in their past five games. What makes their offense so difficult to defend?
MJ: What makes UCSB difficult to defend this year is that it has weapons all over the field. Playmakers from the midfield and left back positions are able to join in on the attack and provide opportunities for the Gauchos’ best goal scorers to make plays, and when DePuy has his chances, he rarely misses.
ES: UCSB started 1-2-1, but has gone 7-1-0 since. What changed that allowed the team to really take off?
MJ: Nearly half of the starting lineup was replaced after last season, meaning it was going to take some time before the Gauchos really came together. The core group is an experienced bunch that has grown as a unit for some time, so once the pieces began to fit together, things just clicked. The defense has limited its mistakes in recent games and the Gauchos have made plays late in games when they’ve needed to.
ES: What’s your prediction for the outcome of the game?
MJ: I predict that the Mustangs’ dedicated following and crazy atmosphere will be a difficult challenge for UCSB to compete against. I think it will be a close game, possibly going to overtime, ending in either a 1-1 tie or another late game-winning goal from DePuy.