Gaucho soccer fans have come to expect a few things from this year’s squad – tough defense, winning and a pair of goals from senior forward Ivan Becerra.
Fortunately for Santa Barbara (6-2-1 overall, 3-0 in the Big West), that is exactly what happened in Wednesday night’s road 4-0 victory over Fullerton (2-6-1, 0-1 Big West) in its Big West opener.
“We scored seven minutes into the game,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “When that happens you know that it’s going to be a good game.”
Becerra struck first after freshman midfielder Eric Avila stole the ball from a Titan defender and fed Becerra, who was able to beat junior goalkeeper Bobby Armstrong in the seventh minute of the game. Santa Barbara struck again in the 25th minute when the ball rebounded off the crossbar towards sophomore defender Andy Iro to make the score 2-0 heading into halftime.
“I just reacted and just hit it,” Iro said. “It was nothing exciting really.”
Becerra notched his second goal in the game after a pass from sophomore midfielder Matt Williams landed once again at the feet of Iro, who was able to cross it to Becerra, who volleyed it before sending it to the back of the net to make the score 3-0.
“I [saw] him peel off his man, and I was just fortunate enough to be in a position to give it to him,” Iro said. “It wasn’t really anything I did but the great things guys did around me.”
Wednesday’s game marks the fourth time that Becerra, the Gauchos’ leading scorer, has tallied two goals in a game. In fact, the only times Becerra has scored, he has scored a pair.
“If he keeps scoring two goals a game we’re not going to lose a game,” Vom Steeg said. “He’s getting his chances and our midfielders are giving him great opportunities.”
“I feel really good,” Becerra said. “All of my chances are coming in … every time I go out there I’m giving it everything I have and it’s paying off for me.”
While the offense did its job, the defense was typically solid. Iro was able to stick with senior forward Jose Barragan who was unable to score. With the return of senior defender Pat Scott, the Gauchos were able to limit Fullerton to only seven shots compared to Santa Barbara’s 17 – only one of those seven shots required a save by junior keeper Kyle Reynish.
“Scott is a player who settles us down,” Vom Steeg said. “We’re tighter defensively with him on the field.”
Santa Barbara hopes to carry the momentum into Saturday night’s game against the only other undefeated team in the conference – Northridge. They return home to the friendly cheers of the Gaucho Locos.
“The Gaucho Locos are big time.” Iro said. “The thing is that its scary to think about what could happen if we could get the community completely behind us … we can hear them in the stands and it’s why we try to play entertaining and exciting every time we’re out there.”