The UCSB men’s soccer team’s 6-0 thrashing of Cal State Fullerton earlier this season will not be on the minds of the squad this Saturday when it travels south to face the Titans in one of the final matches of the season. The Gauchos are currently ranked fifth in the Big West Conference, and performing well in the final games of conference is necessary in order to achieve postseason status.
“We know that to get ourselves into the playoffs we needed three of these next four games,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “And with that, our RPI will be good enough.”
Saturday’s match against CSUF will be the second of the four final games for the Gauchos. UCSB was able to overcome then-No.1 Big West leader UC Davis this past Wednesday evening.
The Gauchos are currently 10-5-1 overall and 3-4 in Big West play, good enough for a fifth-place tie in conference rankings with rival Cal Poly. The Titans are 1-4 in the Big West with a last place ranking. Sitting atop the conference is UC Irvine, UC Davis, UC Riverside and Cal State Northridge.
Fullerton’s previous game was a 1-1 double overtime tie with UC Riverside, a team that has upset UCSB in both of their Big West meetings this season.
“We cannot underestimate anybody,” senior defender Tim Pontius said. “We beat them 6-0 but now we have to travel down to their place.”
The Gauchos have seen multiple players sidelined with injuries, including junior midfielder Machael David, whose return is questionable for the remainder of the season. Sophomore defender Matt Glodack is not expected to play in Saturday’s game against Fullerton due to an injury suffered against UC Riverside last week.
As the games become increasingly important leading up to the Gauchos’ final regular season match against rival Cal Poly, coach Vom Steeg will be looking toward his reserves for support.
“We are gonna see a few more players on the field, it’s that time of year,” Vom Steeg said. “I gotta get guys into games so we’re not logging 90 minutes on [one] whole group. Especially attacking forwards.”
UCSB’s front line of attack has averaged 15.8 shots per game, and senior midfielder Luis Silva increased his league-leading goal count to 11 with a score against UC Davis on Wednesday. The Gauchos currently average 2.1 goals per game on the season.
Cal State Fullerton has scored one or less goals in its previous eight games, and averages 1.38 per game overall.
Saturday’s game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at Titan Stadium on the Cal State Fullerton campus.