It took two grueling periods of overtime to get it done, but the UCSB men’s soccer team triumphed over Davis 3-2 yesterday afternoon.
Santa Barbara (9-3-3 overall, 4-0-2 in the Big West) finished the game with under a minute left to play in the second and final overtime period off of a goal from freshman midfielder Eric Avila.
When it looked like Santa Barbara would receive its fourth tie of the season, the freshman midfielder from San Diego exploded on the ball from over 25 yards out. Avila’s game winning shot came in the 109th minute off of a Bryan Byrne corner kick.
“It was a shot that I work on in practice,” Avila said. “Basically, I just took the same shot I take in practice.”
This is the second time this season that Avila has scored the game-winning goal against the Aggies (6-7-2) – the last time being Oct. 15 in Harder Stadium.
“It was just hard work,” Avila said. “Basically, our hard work paid off for us.”
Davis jumped to an early lead and scored in the fourth minute on a header off of a corner kick. Once Davis got the lead they were content to sit back and play mostly defense with very little attacking.
“We put ourselves in an early hole,” Assistant Coach Grant Porter said. “We had our work cut out for us.”
About to end the half and down 1-0, senior midfielder Byrne beat his man and sent a hard shot to the back of the net from 15 yards out in the 44th minute. Davis went back on the offensive and scored their second goal when freshman forward Ian Conklin beat junior keeper Kyle Reynish on a breakaway in the 50th minute.
“Davis came out and was really up to play against us,” Porter said. “Both teams played hard.”
Not wanting to lose to Davis, a team still in transition to the Division I level, Santa Barbara turned up the intensity and went on the offensive. Aggie freshman keeper Derek Shaffer committed a foul in the box after Aggie sophomore defender Paul Cain stood in the box to assist Shaffer during a Gaucho offensive. Cain blocked the shot, and Shaffer, in turn, picked the ball up, which resulted in a yellow card and a free kick. Byrne took the kick, which ricocheted off of Davis’ human wall and into the air where sophomore defender Andy Iro was waiting to send in his fourth goal of the season in the 70th minute. Shaffer received another yellow card later in the match, resulting in a red card and an ejection.
“It’s always nice to score goals,” Iro said. “Generally, I was happy with how we did considering how bad the referees were, and how bad the field was.”
Overall, 66 total fouls were called against Davis and the Gauchos – 15 more than the last time the two faced each other. The constant stoppage of play made it difficult for either team to get into a good rhythm and Iro had to consistently remind the referee to stop the clock when Davis players were either suffering from or feigning injuries on the field.