The large number of tortillas flying onto the field made the match seem like a regular season rivalry game, yet the UCSB men’s soccer team’s 6-1 victory over Westmont College this past Saturday served as the Gauchos’ lone preseason match of the year.
“I was excited to see this group play tonight,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “There were a lot of good performances.”
Though the first shot on goal came from a Westmont attack less than two minutes into the first half, it was the only attempt by the Warriors through the first 45 minutes. The first goal of the match came with 33:04 remaining in the first half after senior midfielder Luis Silva grounded a pass across the top of the Westmont goal box, setting up junior forward Sam Garza for the score.
Garza, who was recently named to the 2011 MAC Hermann Trophy watch list for the highest award in intercollegiate soccer, received all-Big West and Big West Co-Offensive Player of the Year during the 2010 season.
A second Gaucho goal came with 2:53 remaining in the first half after a quick cross pass by senior defender Peter McGlynn led to a chip shot into the upper post by sophomore forward David Opoku.
“We were on the ball much more tonight,” Vom Steeg said. “When they finally got the ball they didn’t have the energy they needed to get something going offensively.” UCSB continued its stream of attacks in the second half with a goal by junior midfielder Christian Vasquez, who was able to score after receiving a chip pass from Silva in the 64th minute.
Senior forward Waid Ibrahim was next to strike for the Gauchos with a diving header into the lower left corner at 10:33. The goal came off of an assist from junior forward Michael Nonni.
Ibrahim, whose lone goal last season was a game winner during the first round of the NCAA playoffs, assisted on UCSB’s fifth goal of the game less than two minutes later. Ibrahim’s free-kick pass allowed Silva to score with a strong kick with 8:40 remaining.
Westmont’s only score of the game came with 1:17 remaining in the second half when a rebounded shot off of UCSB junior goalkeeper André Grandt allowed freshman forward Daniel Johnsen to chip the ball into the right side of the net.
UCSB’s final goal was scored 35 seconds later when Nonni capitalized on a breakaway score.
“For us, you saw a lot of maturity on the field,” Vom Steeg said. “When you have mature players on the field they just make better decisions.”
UCSB returns to practice during this week to prepare for Saturday’s game against visiting Seattle University. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Harder Stadium.