What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
At least that’s what the UCSB men’s soccer team is thinking after having its 12-game winning streak snapped this weekend.
The seemingly unstoppable Gauchos (11-1-1 overall, 4-1-0 in the Big West) proved that they, too, are human, coming out on the losing end of a 3-1 decision Saturday at Northridge.
The Gauchos got on the board first in the 40th minute. Junior defender Pat Scott one-timed the ball from the right side of the penalty box after a free kick from junior midfielder Nate Boyden. Scott’s shot was blocked by Northridge keeper Radames Lafaurie but the rebound came loose in front of the net. Freshman defender Andy Iro was there with his left foot to finish and give UCSB the lead.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, the Matadors evened the score at one. Junior midfielder Zach Feldman drew Kennedy off his line, dribbling into the box, then dished the ball to junior forward Daniel Paladini. Paladini sent a dribbler toward the goal which neither Kennedy nor senior defender Tony Lochhead could reach before it crossed the goal line.
The Matadors (8-4-0, 3-1-0) took advantage of UCSB after Iro received his second yellow card of the match, resulting in his ejection.
“Even after they tied it up, I didn’t think that we had any chance of really losing that game but then Andy got red-carded,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “It’s our third game of having to play a man down and this time it just caught up with us.”
With the score knotted at one, Matador forward Willie Sims received a through ball from senior defender Benjamin Benditson. Sims settled the ball and drove it into the back of the net underneath a diving senior goalkeeper Danny Kennedy to give Northridge the 2-1 lead.
Down by a goal, with 15 minutes remaining, UCSB pressed to score the equalizer. The pressure, combined with playing a man down allowed Northridge’s Alec de Mattos to place a shot in the upper right-hand corner past Kennedy to give the Matadors their final 3-1 lead.
“We so thoroughly dominated that game that it shouldn’t come down to them scoring one goal and tying the game up. We had numerous opportunities, both in the first half and the first 15 minutes of the second half to put in a second or third goal,” Vom Steeg said. “I think any time you don’t finish a team off and the team is completely out-played like Northridge was, then all of a sudden, in one play, they tie the game up, and the momentum really swings.”
With the loss, the Gauchos extend their losing streak at Northridge to four games. Looking ahead, UCSB plays host to Irvine and Cal Poly in two conference matches this week.
“Now we get to come back, and we have a couple games at home to get a couple wins,” Kennedy said. “We don’t lose at home, so this will give us an opportunity to get back on the winning track and hopefully get our league championship.”