The leprechaun might be missing tonight, but the green and gold will still be in abundance when the No. 13 UCSB men’s soccer team travels north for the first of two regular season games against rival Cal Poly.
“[Cal Poly] has been a difficult place to play for a variety of reasons,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “Add a bunch of people and the game is circled on their schedule as the most important game of the year. You put that all in and you have a difficult place to win a game.”
The Gauchos are currently on a three-game consecutive winning streak and stand at 9-3-1 overall and 2-2 in Big West play. Cal Poly is currently 5-5-2 overall and is also 2-2 in conference.
An upstart in offensive attacking has been a huge factor in UCSB’s most recent victories. The Gauchos have been able to score 11 goals in their last three games, including a 6-0 romping of visiting Cal State Fullerton this past Tuesday. UCSB has 213 shots on the season and currently averages 16.4 shots per game in Big West play.
“The guys are finally putting the ball in frame,” Vom Steeg said. “We’ve been getting opportunities and don’t put them on frame. If we put a lot of shots on frame, we’ll be alright.”
The Mustangs have been a bit more timid on the offensive side of the field, scoring on only 12 out of a total of 167 shots on the season. However Cal Poly’s defense has been a strong factor in the team’s various successes thus far, as senior goalkeeper Patrick McClain currently ranks seventh among the Big West goalkeepers with the most shutouts at five.
McClain is second only to the six shutouts of UCSB’s junior goalkeeper Andre Grandt, who will be playing in his first rivalry match against Cal Poly since transferring to UCSB during the past offseason.
“I saw tapes from last year and I’m expecting a huge crowd,” Grandt said. “I’m definitely looking forward to it … it’s the first time when I’m going to play in front of a big crowd in an away game.”
Six of the last 10 games between these two teams have gone into overtime, and seven of the last 10 have been decided by one goal. Cal Poly is currently winless through its three overtime games this year, while UCSB recently beat UC Davis 2-1 in overtime on the road.
“We’re 3-0-1 in overtime,” Vom Steeg said. “It’s not a bad situation to be in for us. I think the longer the game goes the advantage goes to us.”
Tonight’s Blue-Green rivalry match against Cal Poly will be played at 7 p.m. at Spanos Stadium on the Cal Poly campus.