Following the team’s disappointing 4-1 loss to archrival Cal Poly on the road, the UCSB men’s soccer team saw one positive come out of last weekend and that was the 3-0 loss that third place Sac State experienced to UC Davis; meaning that the second place seed was no longer up for grabs.
Ultimately, UCSB’s 15 total points in the standings have the team at 2nd overall on the Big West league table and the Big West North. The winner of the Big West South, Cal State Fullerton, only finished with 14 points.
To summarize, the Gauchos’ regular season campaign featured a conference record of 4-3-3. The team proved to be inconsistent at times whether it is at home or on the road, but dominant enough to net them yet another playoff berth. Overall, the Gauchos finished 6-7-5.
Concerning statistic, the team only totaled 13 goals across nine matches, yet held opposing sides to 17 scores against them. However, as much as this speaks volumes for both the offensive and defensive sides for the Gauchos, the team still can cherish a combined 3 clean sheets on the year to go with their quarterfinalist position.
When reflecting back at previous analysis to commence the season; not many would’ve figured UC Davis to have topped not only their division but also the entire Big West board.
This is due in part because of their early first-round exit in last year’s playoff. Nonetheless, the Aggies appear to be the team to beat and the Gauchos have yet to beat them even after two encounters this season. In fact, UCSB was outscored in those two contests 8-0.
Now, UCSB will look ahead to their first-round opponents as they draw UC Riverside at home to kick off the postseason. The Highlanders finished their collegiate season with an overall record of 4-12-1 and 4-5-1 Big West.
One of those five conference losses came in an out of division matchup, on the road, against UCSB. The result was ultimately a 3-1 victory for the Gauchos, but thanks to the whopping 10 total saves from UC Riverside’s goalkeeper Vincent Morales, the score didn’t run up anymore.
Besides a very talented goalie, the Highlanders also boast a fairly prolific goal scorer in junior forward Antonio Lokossou.
He currently leads his team in the goals category with a total 5 tallies and also maintains the most shots at goal with 26 on the season. Paired with the team assist team leader of sophomore forward Anthony Lopez who has three helpers and two goals to his name, the Gauchos would be wise to game plan with these two in mind.
As for UCSB, Rodney Michael once again stepped up for his time and netted the redemption score in their previous 4-1 loss. On the year, Michael continues to lead his team in both categories with eight goals and three assists (tied with Ignacio Tellechea).
Easily claiming the team’s regular season MVP consideration, his success also extends to a league level as he is tied for second most Big West goals scored and third most shots taken.
Michael also earned Big West Freshman of the Year and Big West All-First Team Honors.
Freshman goalkeeper Alan Carrillo will also be a big key to the Gauchos postseason success if they enjoy any. The La Mirada native has allowed nine of his 24 goals allowed in the last three games.
His 1.27 goals against average still rank fourth in the Big West, and his 50 total saves rank sixth, however, he must play better if he hopes to lead the Gauchos to the semifinals.
He, alongside Michael, was named to the Big West All-Freshman Team while senior defender Randy Mendoza was named to the All-Big West Second Team.
With a hopefully continued success through the postseason, and if the Gauchos could relocate their once solid defensive line, then UCSB can very well consider a deep run in the Big West playoff race.
From here on out it’s simple, single elimination games and Wednesday’s victors will land themselves a ticket to Saturday’s semifinal games; thus propelling them that much closer to the following week’s Big West Finals and that coveted championship title.
Big West early round championship locations still remain on campus sites, so the Gauchos will be hosting UC Riverside this Wednesday, November 1st, at 7 p.m. at Harder Stadium.