Unfortunately for the UCSB men’s soccer team, all good things must come to an end.
The #7 Gauchos were upset at Cal State Fullerton, losing 4-1 for their first Big West Conference loss since 2001. Their last conference loss was to the Titans as well, falling 3-2 at Fullerton on Nov. 18, 2001, to end the 2001 season. The loss ends the school’s record-breaking 14-game Big West win streak, and will likely drop Santa Barbara from its #7 national ranking.
The smoke from nearby brush fires provided an ominous setting for the Gauchos as they arrived to the game 30 minutes before kickoff due to travel delays. The Titans grabbed an early 1-0 lead when sophomore forward Ignacio Cid headed in a corner kick from senior forward Hector Orellana in the 15th minute. Junior goalkeeper Danny Kennedy managed to get a hand on the corner kick, which deflected off the cross bar, but Cid was able to place the ball in the back of the net.
UCSB out-shot Fullerton 7-5 in the first half, but the Titans’ junior goalkeeper Sam Reynolds held strong and rode a 1-0 lead into halftime.
The Gauchos seemed to regain momentum when senior midfielder Memo Arzate scored on a penalty kick in the 50th minute to knot the game at one. Junior forward Drew McAthy led senior midfielder David McGill, who was streaking down the right side. McGill shook a defender and passed to Arzate, who was taken down inside the penalty box. Arzate then proceeded to knock in his fourth penalty kick of the year and his 6th goal of the season.
But Santa Barbara couldn’t work from the momentum as the Titans scored five minutes later on an Orellana goal from the left side. The goal was the second of the season for Orellana, who is seventh on Fullerton’s all-time goal scoring list. Gordon Kljestan assisted on the score. Fullerton broke the game open two minutes later on Cid’s second goal of the game on a blast from the left side. Until his two goals against the Gauchos, Cid hadn’t scored a goal since he netted three in the first two games of the season.
The Titans iced the game in the 73rd minute when senior midfielder Brent Whitfield scored his fifth goal of the season and put the game out of reach at 4-1. Whitfield headed the ball in on a short cross from Cid. Cid proved elusive throughout the match, notching his fifth point of the game with the assist.
The Gauchos out-shot the Titans 16-14, but luck wasn’t on Santa Barbara’s side on Saturday, as only one of their nine second-half shots resulted in a goal. Reynolds made five saves for Fullerton, including four in the second half. Kennedy also registered five saves for Santa Barbara as his goals against average rose to 1.00, second place in the Big West.
The loss dropped Santa Barbara to 11-2-1 for the season and 4-1-0 in the Big West. Fullerton, 1-4 in their last five matches, improved to 6-8-1 overall and 2-4 in the Big West. The Gauchos still remain two points ahead of Northridge for first place in the Big West. Santa Barbara has five more conference games on the schedule and will play a key game against the Matadors on Nov. 5th at Northridge.
The Gauchos look to get back in form on Wednesday when they host UC Irvine at 7 p.m. at Harder Stadium.