The #17 UCSB men’s soccer team tallied its 10th win Saturday night at Harder Stadium to the cheers and applause of a costumed Halloween crowd.
Saturday night’s 2-0 conference victory over Fullerton marks the third home shutout in a row for Santa Barbara (10-3-3 overall, 5-0-2 in the Big West) and keeps the Gauchos in second place overall in the Big West.
“The bottom line is that we were solid on defense,” UCSB Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “We did exactly what we had to do tonight.”
The back line kept pressure off of junior goalkeeper Kyle Reynish. Still, the Titans (4-10-1 overall, 1-4-1 Big West) out-shot Santa Barbara 13-10. Reynish made sure that none of those balls found their way to the back of his goal by stepping out and taking control of the box. The shutout is Reynish’s seventh of the season – his first full season as the starter in between the pipes.
“I’m starting to get that internal confidence back that comes from really starting to play again,” Reynish said. “It goes away after not playing for a while like I did the past couple of seasons. I’m feeling real confident now.”
The game-winning goal came from a familiar foot for the Gauchos – senior forward Ivan Becerra tallied his team-leading 10th goal of the season when he received a through ball from freshman midfielder Eric Avila at the top of the box, dribbled passed his defender and blasted the ball past Fullerton junior keeper Bobby Armstrong in the 48th minute of the game. The score remained 1-0 and Fullerton remained competitive until the 86th minute when freshman midfielder Chris Pontius scored his third goal of the season.
“[The coaches] think he’s going to have a real bright future here,” Vom Steeg said.
The goal was set up by Alfonso Motagalvan, another freshman midfielder. Motagalvan sent a high lob pass from 30 yards out, straight to the head of Pontius, who was able to bounce it over Armstrong and close the door on any hopes the Titans had of a comeback.
With the slow start and lack of intensity during the first portion of the game, one had to wonder if Santa Barbara was thinking less about Fullerton, and more about its upcoming game against # 15 Northridge.
“When you play teams with nothing to lose, then you’re going to get anything,” Vom Steeg said. “The way our season has been going, we can’t look ahead. We have to focus on every single game.”
With Fullerton dealt with, Santa Barbara can now look ahead to its match with first-place Northridge (11-2-3 overall, 6-0-1 Big West) Wednesday afternoon at Matador Stadium in Northridge. The winner of Wednesday’s game will likely be the team that finishes the season on top of the Big West.