The #15 UCSB men’s soccer team regained its spot on top of the Big West standings with a tie and a win in back-to-back contests this weekend.
For the second time in two seasons, the Gauchos (7-2-3 overall, 3-0-2 in the Big West) forced a tie with Irvine. The final score of 2-2 marked the third straight time that the Anteaters (6-3-3 overall, 3-0-1 Big West) and the Gauchos have played a double overtime game in Irvine, and Saturday’s 1-0 finish over Davis continued Santa Barbara’s five-game unbeaten streak.
“It was disappointing because we totally dominated down there,” sophomore defender Andy Iro said. “But in hindsight — an away tie at Irvine really isn’t that bad of a result.”
Santa Barbara outshot the Anteaters 20-9 but had difficulty putting their shots on target. Senior midfielder Bryan Byrne responded to Irvine’s junior forward Brad Evans go-ahead goal off of a penalty kick by drilling a deflected ball into the back of the net just a minute and a half later. Junior midfielder Eric Frimpong again tied the game for the Gauchos midway through the second half to force the tie.
“We were all pissed off about tying again,” freshman forward Eric Avila said. “We decided to take that game and that anger and just carry it on to this one [against Davis]. That game ended at 110 minutes, so we went out and played like this one was starting at 111.”
Santa Barbara dominated the Aggies (6-5-2 overall) defensively – junior goalkeeper Kyle Reynish earned his fifth shutout of the season without recording a single save – but struggled to score on freshman keeper Derek Schaffer who recorded five saves in the first half alone. It wasn’t until the 81st minute of the game when Frimpong played a ball to Avila, who, with his back to the goal, turned around and drilled it into the bottom corner of the net.
“I was screaming at him to get me the ball because I was open,” Avila said. “I just hit it and tried to put it on target.”
Referee Ali Haycock allowed the game to develop into a physical contest that saw two Davis players leave with injuries — including Davis’ sophomore midfielder Greg Hammond who left with a broken arm after a midair collision sent him to the ground.
“I didn’t think he had a yellow card until he finally showed one,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “The game was going to get as physical as the referees would let it, and you saw what happened.”
Santa Barbara’s defense outplayed Davis’ attackers allowing only three shots – none of them on goal.
“I was very pleased with our defense,” Vom Steeg said. “It was probably the first time all year that they played 90 minutes of very solid defense.”
Santa Barbara hopes to extend its unbeaten streak to six games when it heads to #17 UCLA (7-3-2 overall, 3-1-1 in the Pac-10) on Thursday.