With vengeance on their minds, the Gauchos jumped on top of the visiting Aggies quickly and never let go of the reins in a 1-0 victory. For the entire first half and the beginning of the second, the Gauchos (9-6-0 overall, 4-2-0 in the Big West) shelled Davis (7-6-2 overall) with one dangerous ball after another sent into the box, but they would have to wait until the 61st minute to strike paydirt.
In the end it would be the Ireland native, senior midfielder Bryan Byrne who put one away as junior forward Andrew Proctor laid back a slow roller to the top of the 18-yard box, which Byrne one-timed to its final resting place in the back of the net.
“When we played them up in Davis, they basically outworked us,” Proctor said. “And that is what spelled our problems for us. But tonight everyone had a concerted effort that they were going to work harder than the guy they were matched up against. I think even on the goal, [that’s what it came down to].”
The box-score of last nights match-up is immediately deceiving for anyone who was not there. While both teams tallied nine shots with a combined three on goal, UCSB held the fate of the evening in its hands the whole time.
Staring into a one-goal deficit late in the game and having absolutely nothing to lose, Davis pushed more players into the attack to try and churn out some last-second heroics; but they would never come.
“Whenever they start sending four or five guys up top, its always going to be chaotic,” senior goalkeeper Kyle Reynish said. “We struggled to make those adjustments, but once we made them it looked better; we worked hard and won our second balls and didn’t let too much stuff drop in the box, so luckily it didn’t cost us.”
Even without junior defender Andy Iro in the back, who was serving his red card suspension, the Gaucho defense kept its cool to quell the Davis attack of Hail Mary long balls and throw-ins.
“The key [on defense] was winning every 50-50 ball and every second ball because those make or break the game,” freshman defender David Walker said. “They live off those; it’s the only way they’re going to score [on us]. They don’t have a strong team going forward like that.”
Probably the greatest disappointment of the evening came midway through the first half when the far side linesman raised his flag after Proctor took a trap off freshman forward Bongomin Otii and turned it into a 30-yard blast that banked off the left post and into the net.
“Bongomin came from an offsides position,” Proctor said. “The linesman had his flag up from the get-go; I mean I thought it was a bad call but everyone said it was right.”
UCSB returns to action this Saturday in Harder Stadium at 7 p.m. to host visiting Fullerton.