Wednesday night’s game against Cal Poly was tough and physical; just the way the UCSB men’s soccer team likes it.
The Gauchos (5-2-1 overall, 2-0 in the Big West) rebounded from Sunday night’s loss at Loyola Marymount (2-2-2 overall) to remain on top of the Big West standings with their 3-1 victory over conference rival Cal Poly (4-5, 0-1).
“We came out with a lot of energy tonight,” junior goalkeeper Kyle Reynish said. “It was a pretty tough game; it started out pretty physical,” Reynish said. “By the second half our fitness showed through and we were able to blow it open.”
Santa Barbara put points on the scoreboard first with a goal by freshman midfielder Eric Avila, his first of the season. The opportunity came when Avila took a through-ball from senior midfielder and Hermann trophy candidate Tyler Rosenlund – then was able to go one on one with the keeper successfully and take a wide open shot at the net.
“It felt great, it felt really great,” Avila said. “I was nervous when I beat the keeper because I thought I might shank it but it went in and all the nervousness left. I felt like I was ready to start scoring more goals.”
Scoring more goals is exactly what head coach Tim Vom Steeg expects from the freshman midfielder. He said that his ability to create for himself is incredible and that because of his abilities there isn’t any reason why he can’t score a goal a game.
Before the first half was over, the Mustangs were able to tie the game up when senior midfielder Moses Venegas scored off of a free kick for Cal Poly’s first and only goal of the night.
The second half saw something that Gaucho fans are becoming used to – a pair of goals from senior forward Ivan Becerra. Wednesday night’s game marked the third time this season Becerra accomplished the feat.
“The second goal was probably one of the prettiest goals all year,” Vom Steeg said.
After bouncing off of several players, the ball squirted out to Becerra who played it off of one bounce to send it to the top of the net from 15 yards out. Santa Barbara’s third goal came after a foul and a quick pass from Avila that gave Becerra a chance to go one on one with the keeper and score.
The high energy of the game resulted in a physical contest that saw three Gauchos leave the game after getting banged up. Becerra, Rosenlund and sophomore midfielder Matt Williams had to sit out the end of the second half.
“This is the hardest place to play a league game on the road,” Vom Steeg said. “For us to come out and get a win in an atmosphere like this is wonderful.”