UCSB’s Lochhead to play in World Cup

Tony LochheadFormer UCSB soccer defender Tony Lochhead was part of the 2004 Gaucho men’s soccer team that made it all the way to the national championship match. It was a season that is credited by many as lifting UCSB men’s soccer to its current status as a national powerhouse.

The Gauchos lost the title game in penalty kicks to Indiana, but the 2004 squad will always be considered one of the best-ever at the school. Lochhead ended his Gaucho career that year as the program’s all-time leader in minutes played, having started in all 83 match he appeared in.

He played for his native New Zealand’s national team — the “All-Whites” — since 2003, and is currently playing professionally for Wellington Phoenix in Australia’s A-League.

The All-Whites made history in early November, qualifying for the World Cup for only the second time in the nation’s history. The other time was in 1982, the year Lochhead was born.

Playing in the Oceania qualification group, a berth in the 2010 World Cup came down to a pair of matches between the All Whites and Bahrain, with one game to be played in each country. After a 0-0 draw in Bahrain, the stage was set for a showdown in New Zealand — one of the biggest matches in each nation’s history.

New Zealand won 1-0, but there was considerable drama. Lochhead committed a foul in the box late in the match which awarded Bahrain a penalty kick which would have tied the score. Bahrain would have advanced out of the 1-1 draw, as the away team gets the nod in such circumstances.

New Zealand goalie Mark Paston made the clutch save, however, and the All Whites advanced to play in South Africa. Click here to see a video of the nail-biting sequence.

Lochhead graciously agreed to an interview with PresidioSports.com to discuss the qualifying process, his days as a Gaucho and his training at Santa Barbara’s Titan Sports and Physical Therapy, a valued marketing partner of PresidioSports.com.

Lochhead began training with Robb Bolton at Titan in 2003.

PS: What was the pressure like playing in the critical matches against Bahrain? How about the sense of relief when your goalie stopped the penalty kick? You must have bought him dinner or something.

TL: It’s hard to explain the pressure you feel. It was like nothing else i have played in before. We had quite a bit of time between the two games and leading up to the games, so there was alot of time to think about them which can be both good and bad.

Going into the first game it was important for us to get a result so that we could take it back to New Zealand with a chance of winning. Even though they had some good chances in the first game, we were confident going into the second knowing a bit better of what we were going to be up against and what kind of problems they could cause us. We also felt like we could play a lot better than we did in the first, which gave us confidence.

But with all that time between games, we spent a lot of time thinking about the game. With it meaning so much for New Zealand football for us to qualify, it did put a lot of pressure on us to win. By winning it meant that there would be an increase in the amount of funds, which New Zealand has really struggled with, especially with rugby being the big sport here.

When the goalie saved the PK I started celebrating as if I had scored the goal myself. There was a huge sense of relief, because if they had scored it would have meant they would have gone through on the away goal.

I room with the goalie with my club team, the Wellington Phoenix, so we know each other quite well. He definitely saved my skin, and I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be the person that cost us the chance to go to the World Cup. I might have had to move back over to the states lol!

PS: Highlights of your UCSB career? What was it like playing for Tim Vom Steeg?

TL: I think the highlight of my career at UCSB was that last year, 2004. It was a pretty special team that we had, and I will forever remember my time at UCSB. It was also pretty awesome to think that we were the group of players that made UCSB a powerhouse in college football. It was a pretty small sport when I first arrived (in 2001), but now it has to be one of the top sports at the school.

I think i learned alot while i was playing at UCSB, not only from Tim but also (assistant coach Leo Chappel). I think they were a great team together. Through UCSB I made the NZ Olympic and national team and was drafted in the MLS. Tim had a role in all that. Being at UCSB was very similar to playing pro football.

PS: Does the Indiana match still sting?

TL: It was really hard to lose that final, and I guess with football anything can happen in a penalty shootout. We would not be the first team to go down on penalties — thats just the way the game is.

PS: Do you follow the Gauchos still? How would the ’04 UCSB squad fare in the Oceania group?

TL: Yeah, of course I still follow the guys. I think it would be hard to not keep an eye on the team. As I said, I feel like our group helped to get them to where they are today, so I am aways interested to see how they are doing. I felt with that 2004 team we could beat anyone on our day and we pretty much manged to get it done on most occasions. So I would have to say we would do alright.

TitanPS: What specifically did you like about training at Titan, and how much did it help you?

TL: What I thought was great about Titan was the way that they trained and the methods that they used to help you. I used to go to the gym quite a bit before I went to Titan, so I was fit, but most of the stuff that you do at the gym isn’t specific to football. With Titan, the training was tailored to what you needed specifically for your sport. It was functional training.

I felt like I made huge leaps forward in my training there. At UCSB, we would always do the “beep test” to measure our fitness. After training with Titan I made big jumps in the testing. Not only did Titan improve my fitness, it also improved on my speed and agility.

I actually just asked if Robb would be interested in training me for the World Cup. We have our offseason right before the Cup so i might come over and do my training over there with him.


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