On the eve of the final stretch of the season, the #19 UCSB men’s soccer team plays its final nonconference match of the year as they travel to Davis today.
“This game is important because Davis plays like teams that we’ll be playing in the Big West,” senior midfielder Nate Boyden said. “The question is if we can score goals.”
The Aggies (6-6-2 overall) – who will formally join the Big West next season – have posted a 3-4 mark against future conference members and have yet to lose at home. Davis was downed by Fullerton 3-1 in their last match and also fell to the Gauchos (8-3-3 overall, 4-0-2 in the Big West) 1-0 nearly two weeks ago.
“I have ultimate faith in our coaching staff that they will make the necessary adjustments after that first game,” Boyden said. “We’ll be more comfortable having already seen them and have a better idea of what they are trying to do both offensively and defensively.”
The Gauchos’ victory over Davis was a defensive standoff in which the game-winning goal was scored in the 81st minute by freshman midfielder Eric Avila. Santa Barbara only put one on the board, despite taking 19 shots. In contrast, UCSB held the Aggies to only three shots, none of which were on frame.
“We were a little bit concerned that our offense only scored once, but they weren’t pressing that hard in the beginning,” junior keeper Kyle Reynish said. “We have seen some film and can see their formation and it has helped us try to figure out how to score.”
Many of Davis’ games have been low-scoring contests like the loss to UCSB. Only once has a team reached the three-goal plateau in Aggie games this season, and that was during their loss to Fullerton.
“It’s actually a good thing we only beat them 1-0 because now we are not overconfident,” Reynish said. “They are undefeated at home this year and we are up to that challenge.”
The Gauchos have posted a 4-1-2 record in their last seven games, their lone loss coming against #8 UCLA. Mixed in were ties with Northridge and Irvine, the two teams the Gauchos are battling for the Big West crown.
“The tie to Irvine was frustrating,” Reynish said. “It puts the pressure back on us. It’s still in our hands to win the Big West, but we have to be flawless for the rest of our games.”
Santa Barbara currently sits in second place despite being undefeated in Big West play. Northridge is looking down from the top with their 5-0-1 conference showing, their only blemish a 2-2 double overtime draw on the road against UCSB. Irvine remains within striking distance, sporting a 3-1-1 conference record.
“We’re confident because everything is in front of us,” Boyden said. “We didn’t get the job done against Northridge at home. We just need to win games and we’ll be fine.”