Forty-five minutes of dominating play was only half as good as #17 UCLA for the UCSB men’s soccer team Thursday night.
The Gauchos (7-3-3 overall, 3-0-2 in the Big West) allowed an early goal, which would eventually do them in, despite controlling the game through most of the second half. UCLA needed just the one goal to take the 1-0 win and extend its home-unbeaten streak to six games.
“We pissed all over them in the second half and we still didn’t get the win. There are no moral victories but we can walk away knowing that we are better than this team,” senior midfielder Nate Boyden said. “This game really came down to the 18-yard box.”
Just two minutes into the match, a foul called on Santa Barbara just outside its own penalty box resulted in a free kick from Bruin sophomore forward Kamani Hill. Hill’s free kick came into the box from the left hand side of the field, finding its way to the head of freshman defender Brad Rusin who put it away for the first and only goal of the match at the 2:29 mark.
“The goal was just a nice five or six yard run. We didn’t get inside of [Rusin] and he hit a clean head ball,” Assistant Coach Leo Chappel said. “It was a little disheartening because it’s something we practice all the time.”
Just minutes later, the Gauchos had a chance to equalize the score when a ball found the head of senior midfielder Bryan Byrne, but UCLA junior keeper Eric Reed got help from the post to halt the scoring chance.
Although Santa Barbara had two more quality scoring opportunities late in the half ( coming at the feet of Byrne and Boyden ( the Bruins took their one goal advantage into the half.
“It seems like a lot of teams will sit on us once they have a lead and try to keep us from attacking,” Boyden said. “We need to be patient, not panicky and making the wrong passes.”
The second half saw a renewed attack from UCSB featuring accurate passing, ball control and possession in the midfield. A stymied Bruin squad could not muster a shot on goal in the second half but did commit 10 fouls in an attempt to slow Santa Barbara’s momentum in the half.
Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg opted to bring in recovering sophomore midfielder Tyler Rosenlund to help balance the Gaucho offense in the second half.
“Tyler is a presence in the midfield and that showed when he got in there,” Chappel said. “His experience is good to have back on the field.”
Despite its second half efforts, UCSB could not find the back of the net, snapping its unbeaten streak at five games. The Bruins, on the other hand, continued their home-shutout streak with Reed posting his seventh shutout of the season.
The Gauchos will look to begin a new streak Saturday night when they return to Big West action, hosting Cal Poly (4-9-0, 0-4-0 Big West).
“Now, we’ve got to take care of business at home,” Vom Steeg said. “We like Cal Poly at home because we’ve got a big field and we’ve had lots of success against them there. Hopefully, we can get back on track.”
UCSB enters the match boasting a 3-1 win in San Luis Obispo on Sept. 28 and a 34-12-2 all-time record against the Mustangs.
Kick off Saturday is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Harder Stadium.