DePuy thrives as UCSB’s “goal-to” guy

Nick DePuy

UCSB’s Nick DePuy is No. 2 in the country in goals scored. Eight have been clutch game winners and the Gauchos are remarkably undefeated in 20 games when DePuy has scored. (John Dvorak/Presidio Sports Photos)

 

The statistics are mind-boggling.

When Nick DePuy scores a goal for the UCSB men’s soccer team, the Gauchos usually win. Their record the last two seasons when he’s put one in the net is 16-0-4. He has 15 goals this season— second best in the country — and is leading the nation with eight game winners.

Presidio Sports is pleased to recognize DePuy as its Santa Barbara Sports Figure of the Month.

DePuy leads the Gauchos (12-5-2) into the Big West Tournament semifinals against UC Davis on Wednesday night at Harder Stadium. If UCSB wins, it would host the tournament championship game on Saturday night.

DePuy’s goal-scoring success is a result of a lot of work during the offseason.

“I credit my success to my coaches for putting me in a position where I can strive, my teammates for helping me and making me a better player, and my parents for always supporting and encouraging me,”said DePuy.

SPORTS FIGURE OF THE MONTH

This award is made possible by American Riviera Bank

This award is made possible by American Riviera Bank

Each Month, Presidio Sports recognizes a local
sports figure for their extraordinary contribution to
the Santa Barbara athletic community. It is our way to
recognize those who are making a lasting impact in
local sports, whether it is an inspirational
athletic performance, a lifetime achievement award,
or perhaps a great example of leadership.

“We laid out a specific plan for him, heading in particular, UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg said of the offseason work. “He spent a lot of time heading and attacking the ball in the box. The rest of his game has come naturally.

“Last year, when we made the move to put Nick up front, he had 3-4 looks where he was just staring at the goal and he’d finish maybe one of them,” Vom Steeg continued. “This year he’s finishing at a higher rate, which he’s had to do because he’s being manhandled by two center backs in every game. He’s done a much better job. We’ve had enough players to deflect off him so he can get on the ball.”

At 6-4, 185 pounds, with good speed and strength, DePuy is a handful for defenders. Vom Steeg has a photograph from a game in which one centerback is pulling on DePuy’s shorts with both hands while the other is yanking on his jersey.

“This is what Nick’s had to deal with in every game,” said Vom Steeg.

The quality of service has been a huge factor in his success. Several of freshman Geoffrey Acheampong’s conference-leading 10 assists have come on DePuy goals.

“It just comes down to how well I can deliver the ball to these big guys, because it isn’t hard to find either of them, and they’re pretty good at what they do,” said Acheampong after a win over Sacramento State.

Depuy

Depuy has been a revelation at striker for the Gauchos since switching from a defensive role last year.

“The good news is we’ve had good service to him,” said Vom Steeg. “Ish (Ismaila Jome) was very good serving the ball. When Ish got hurt, Geoffrey came in and found him.”

Midfielders Josue Espana, Seo-In Kim, forward Ahinga Selemani and defender/midfielder Duncan Backus also have been instrumental in creating opportunities for DePuy.

“I’ll miss one or two, but the thing is to stay positive,” DePuy said after delivering an overtime game-winner against Cal State Fullerton.

DePuy played in the back and at outside midfielder before Vom Steeg switched him to forward before the start of the conference season last year.

“We played him at left center back, played him at left back and he did fine,” the coach said. “And all of sudden we float him out as a right or left midfielder and we let him run, and his game just came alive. It’s very similar to (Chris) Pontius (who scored 11 and 14 goals during his junior and senior years after being moved up from left back). He could just physically dominate matchups.”

Vom Steeg noted that DePuy is still learning the position. “He’s on game 28 as a striker. Developmental-wise, there are still parts of the game to work on.”

DePuy’s goal-scoring output this season is the most by a Gaucho since 2011 when Luis Silva scored 17. Rob Friend is the all-time leader with 20 goals in 2002.

“There are very few players that get double digits in Division 1 college soccer,” Vom Steeg said. “Anybody who gets 10-plus goals in the college season has done very well. To get 15, is quite remarkable.”

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