In yet another match that went down to the wire, the UCSB men’s pulled out a 2-1 victory over Cal Poly behind junior midfielder Luis Silva’s last-minute goal on Tuesday.
[media-credit name=”Daniel Wade” align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]Sophomore forward Sam Garza scored the Gauchos’ first goal in the 50th minute a high shot past Cal Poly’s keeper. Once the Mustangs evened up the match in the 77th minute, it looked like UCSB would go to its sixth overtime match of the season. Silva had the last laugh, though, putting the ball low and left into the net off a cross from his roommate, sophomore midfielder Machael David.
“Every time before the game we say we’re going to knock the ball, we’re going to play with each other,” Silva said. “That’s what we did on the last play and it worked out good.”
Before Silva’s winner, Cal Poly threatened to score on UCSB’s goal multiple times. Freshman goalkeeper Eric Reyes saved three consecutive clean shots in the 61st minute.
“We were just trying to do a good job and hope that they didn’t get a cross off, but against a great team like Cal Poly you’re going to get crosses up,” Reyes said. “Coach said all week, ‘we have to try to win these headers and if we can’t make sure you don’t get a clear head on goal’ and I think our boys did a great job of that. It was very nerve-wracking in a few moments there but they did a great job and they didn’t let them put the ball in the back of the net.”
Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg has preached the importance of scoring early, something his team has been able to do, with six of the team’s 16 goals this season coming in the first half. Second-half defense has been a key as well, allowing only a single goal in the second half this season.
“Most teams, when you give up your lead at 13 minutes, there’s a letdown,” Vom Steeg said. “Every single time with this group we’ve either come from behind, we’ve battled our way through or [we’ve given] up a goal 13 [minutes] and in, and we pick up the intensity and come back after it. I really like that about our team and I think it’s a quality that will take us far.”
Normally, senior goalkeeper Sam Hayden is the anchor of the Gaucho defense, with senior defender Michael Boxall leading the team in the back half of the field. Both sustained red cards earlier in the season, so freshman goalkeeper Eric Reyes has started three games in goal for UCSB. In thos games, the Gauchos have gone undefeated.
“Honestly, coming in here I knew that Sam was going to be the man and, you know, it’s tough,” Reyes said. “When Sam got the red down at Fullerton, Coach said ‘this is your shot, do something great.’ So overall, three games and two goals, not too bad for a freshman.”
UCSB games against Cal Poly, touted as the “Blue-Green Rivalry,” have been anything but on the soccer pitch, with the Mustangs going winless against the Gauchos since 2007.
“We’re winning the rivalry, whether you like it or not,” Vom Steeg said. “I think it’s 12 straight games here we haven’t lost. But you know what’s going to happen when we go up there, it’ll be on Fox [Soccer Channel], it’ll be 10,000 people and it’ll be a whole new game.”
Also featured on national television will be Friday’s match against Duke (5-2-4 overall), which is coming off a double-overtime 0-0 tie against North Carolina State.
“You’re talking about a very, very good team with very good players, particularly up at forward,” Vom Steeg said. “It’ll be a great game, you don’t want to miss Friday night here at Harder.”