The UCSB men’s soccer team looked like the I.V. Foot Patrol this Halloween weekend, shutting down Fullerton on Saturday night like a keg party on DP.
A penalty kick following a Fullerton handball in the box in the 27th minute gave the Gauchos a 1-0 victory, their 10th of the season and second straight.
“Since they built that stadium down there 12 years ago, we’ve only won once there. It’s a place where you have to win if you’re going to win a league championship,” UCSB Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “I’m really proud of our performance tonight.”
Senior forward Drew McAthy took the penalty kick, putting it in the back of the net for his team-leading 12th goal of the season.
With the goal, McAthy became the most prolific goal scorer in UCSB history. With 47 goals in a Gaucho uniform, McAthy surpassed Scott Grasinger’s record of 46 set between 1979 and 1983. McAthy also inched closer to Grasinger’s career points record. The Huntington Beach native sits at 107 points as a Gaucho, just six away from the top mark of 113.
“It’s definitely pretty cool. It’s a good feeling and it’s been a long time coming,” McAthy said. “It maybe should have come a few games ago but it’s still a good feeling. I’ll feel even better if we make a good run into the NCAA playoffs.”
The Gaucho defense is returning to its early-season form. Senior goalkeeper Danny Kennedy stepped back between the pipes against the Titans after missing two straight games due to injury.
“It was good to get back in there,” Kennedy said. “It was exactly what I would want after sitting out two games on injury: to get a shutout and a good defensive win.”
Kennedy benefited from a strong performance by the defenders in front of him. Senior Tony Lochhead, junior Pat Scott and freshman Andy Iro held down the back line, allowing Fullerton just nine shots. For the second-straight game, the defense kept the opposition from putting a shot on frame, leaving Kennedy with zero saves on the night and his eighth complete shutout of the season.
“Not only was it a shutout but also a dominant defensive performance,” Vom Steeg said. “Obviously, having everyone back was a big help. I felt like we came down here with a lot of intensity.”
The Gauchos (13-2-1 overall, 6-2-0 in the Big West Conference) now hold an eight-point lead over Northridge and Riverside in the Big West standings with four games remaining. The win over the Titans (3-8-2, 1-4-0 Big West) was important as UCSB heads into the final stretch of the season.
“We put ourselves in a situation where we had to win a road game either at Irvine or Fullerton, and we did that tonight,” Kennedy said. “Defensively, we looked as good as we have all year.”
UCSB will return home this week for two nonconference games. The Gauchos host Davis on Thursday and Stanford on Saturday.