In the battle for coastal bragging rights, UCSB and Loyola Marymount treated southern California to a struggle between two top-25 teams on Sunday. Yet the Lions claimed superiority over the Gauchos… barely.
The No. 25 UCSB men’s soccer team suffered its first blemish of the season, losing a heartbreaker to No. 7 LMU 1-0 in overtime on Sunday. Friday was a different story however, and Santa Barbara surged past San Diego State 3-0 at Harder Stadium.
A brisk and cool Friday night saw UCSB insisting on a fast-paced, in-your-face brand of play, instigated by lethal striker and senior forward Rob Friend. Friend scored his 10th goal of the season six minutes into the game after being led perfectly by junior forward Gene Deering. Friend one-timed the pass from the right side to the opposite post and the Gauchos never looked back from there. The goal was also Friend’s 12th consecutive game with a goal scored, a streak that began at the end of last season.
“In Division I soccer, anyone can lose if they don’t show up ready to play,” Deering said after Friday’s victory. “Talent-wise we had the edge on San Diego State but that means nothing without intensity.”
At the 41:19, UCSB junior Matt Kubota lobbed a pass to sophomore forward Drew McAthy. McAthy then punished the ball past Aztec goalkeeper Brian Barnes into the back of the net. The goal was McAthy’s eighth of the year, the second highest total for the Gauchos.
In the second half, the Gauchos continued to bully the 2-6-1 Aztecs. At the 63:56 mark, the ball found the chest of junior midfielder Neil Jones who settled it into prime position and slugged it from the top of the box through the Aztec defense to make the score 3-0.
Sunday, against a stingy Lion defense, the Gauchos were unable to sneak anything by Loyola Marymount goalkeeper Robert Flores. All 10 shots dealt by Santa Barbara strayed off the mark and Flores never had to make a save.
“It was a tough game and it was a close game,” Friend said. “We took them down to the wire, but LMU’s a great team and we stuck with them pretty well.”
As the game drew on, the intensity became apparent. Four UCSB players received yellow cards and in the 64th minute, assist machine Memo Arzate was issued a red card for violent conduct. From then on, the Gauchos were forced to play a man down and without their top playmaker. Assistant Coach Leo Chappel also received a red card. Arzate will have to sit out one game for the violation.
“Once that happened, we kind of lost the quarterback of our team,” Friend said. “I think we would have had a good shot with 11 players.”
Nearing the end of regulation, LMU had several chances to take the lead but saw a couple of shots sail wide and high of the post.
In overtime, the Lions needed just four minutes to end Santa Barbara’s eight-game win streak. LMU striker Andres Murriagui dribbled past three Gaucho defenders and beat UCSB sophomore goalkeeper Dan Kennedy to clinch the game for LMU. The shot was just the 11th by the Tigers in the game, four of which were handled by Kennedy.
UCSB stands tall at 8-1 heading into conference play. UCSB’s first Big West opponent will be Cal State Fullerton. The Titans arrive at Harder Stadium this Saturday at 7:00 p.m.