The UCSB men’s soccer team will face the squad that took its place in league today when Cal State Fullerton visits Harder Stadium for a Big West conference match.
Fullerton currently stands in last place in league rankings, a spot the Gauchos narrowly avoided by beating UC Davis this past Saturday.
“They probably feel the same way we did going in against UC Davis,” senior midfielder Luis Silva said. “We just want to keep the streak going and keep winning league games.”
The win against Davis boosted UCSB’s league record to 1-2 and 8-3-1 overall with a No. 13 ranking in the nation. CSUF is 6-3-2 on the season and stands winless in Big West play at 0-2.
The Gauchos last clashed against the Titans during the Big West championship game of 2010 when UCSB walked off the field with the title on its way to the postseason.
“I’m sure in their minds they want to get back at us for the Big West championship game,” junior forward Michael Nonni said.
Fullerton has outscored opponents 19-11 this season, and senior midfielder Kevin Venegas currently leads the team in shots with 39 and leads the league in shots per game with 3.9.
The Gaucho offense has shown better ability to score goals in recent games than it had during the opening weeks of the season, scoring a combined five goals in the past two games while still managing to take more than 30 shots.
“We just have to keep putting balls in the net,” Silva said. “We just need to move the ball faster through our midfield to get our forwards open.”
Silva, who received Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Week after his game-winning goal against Akron, currently leads the league in goals scored with seven.
The Gauchos have taken a total of 37 shots through the past two games, and have been able to connect on a combined five goals.
Silva and the re-energized UCSB offense will face off against Trevor Whiddon, a CSUF goalkeeper ranked second in league with an average of over four saves per game.
The Titans’ two losses in Big West play have come against Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine, in which they were outscored by a total of five goals to one through both games.
“They’ll have energy in the first 10 minutes,” Nonni said. “They will pressure passing and moving. It’s all about finishing a couple goals early in the first half to make them come at us.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Harder Stadium.