Even the lights that went out at Harder Stadium Wednesday night could not stop the UCSB men’s soccer team from continuing to fight for dominance in the Big West.
The Gauchos slammed Cal State Northridge 4-2 in a game plagued by a rash of fouls. The rough play did not damper the Gauchos’ spirit after the game, however, when loud music and cheers were heard from the locker room. UCSB is only one win away from defending its Big West crown.
Junior midfielder Memo Arzate scored the game-winner for the Gauchos with 15 minutes remaining, snapping a 2-2 tie against the second-place Matadors. Sophomore forward Drew McAthy and junior midfielder David McGill assisted on the key score.
“Memo has now scored three goals in the last three games,” UCSB Assistant Coach Leo Chappel said. “Teams are so concerned with Robbie [Friend], we’ve been trying to find Memo in the box and he scored for us tonight.”
The Gauchos got on the board early in the 10th minute when a shot by junior midfielder Matt Kubota bounced off a defender and went into the net. The assists were credited to sophomore midfielder Jon Apilado and Arzate, who increased his conference lead in assists with 15. Apilado recorded three assists on the night.
“It helped that we scored early, but we knew one goal wouldn’t beat them,” Kubota said.
The lead did not last long and CSUN junior defenseman Edwin Miranda scored in the 25th minute on an assist from junior forward Charles Mitchell.
After the opening jabs, soccer seemed to take a back seat during the final ten minutes of the half while two fights broke out involving every player on the field. During the first fight, McGill had to be restrained by sophomore goalkeeper Danny Kennedy after he was issued a yellow card. A minute later, UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg received a yellow card and a red card after arguing with the referee. Chappel took over for Vom Steeg.
“It was ridiculous. [Vom Steeg] didn’t swear,” Chappel said. “He didn’t do anything. The ref was frustrated and his card was his weapon.”
While this was taking place, the two teams collided again and the ref handed CSUN sophomore forward Jesse Servin a yellow card for his involvement in the fracas.
More frustration would follow for the Gauchos, as a Friend goal was called back in the 41st minute when he was called offside. Santa Barbara’s disappointment was short lived as junior forward Gene Deering put the Gauchos ahead 2-1 in the 42nd minute, with an assist from Apilado.
Jeff Okerman brought the Matadors back into the match when he tied the game in the 58th minute on an assist from Yossi Raz. But Memo would dash any hopes of victory for the Matadors 17 minutes later.
“In the first 10 minutes, they took it to us,” CSUN Head Coach Terry Davila said. “We knew we had to hold them scoreless from then on to win.”
Santa Barbara played one man up for the final 10 minutes of the match when CSUN junior defenseman Peabo Woodson received a red card when he fouled Arzate.
As the Gauchos were putting the lights out on Northridge’s bid for a Big West title, the stadium lights went out for fifteen minutes due to a transformer blowing near the Rec Center. The game resumed with sophomore forward Matt Bly putting the final touches on another Gaucho win with a goal of his own. Apilado recorded his third assist on the play.
“The coach said all along I was doing well in practice, and I was able to do it in the game,” Apilado said.
The win moves the Gauchos to 14-2-1 overall, 6-0-1 in the Big West. They now hold a two game lead over the Matadors, who fell to 11-4-2, 4-2-1 in the Big West.