The UCSB men’s soccer team continued to do just enough to get by against Cal State Fullerton last Saturday, netting a first-half goal and holding on for a 1-0 victory over the Titans. The win vaults the Gauchos (10-6 overall, 5-2 in the Big West) into first place in the Big West Conference and extends their winning streak to a season-high three games.
In the 37th minute, sophomore forward Nick Perera took advantage of a poor pass by the Titan (5-9-1 overall, 1-5 Big West) defense to gain possession for Santa Barbara. He slid a pass wide to the left to junior forward Andrew Proctor, who sent the ball off to junior midfielder Tyler Rosenlund near the top of the penalty box. Rosenlund blasted a shot that hit the crossbar and bounced into the net for his first goal of the season.
“It was a lucky bounce and the guy tried to get it over my head, but after I got it, Proctor was calling for it so I tried to slip it through,” Perera said.
Rosenlund also had a quality chance earlier in the half, but his shot went right at sophomore goalkeeper Kevin Puder. Rosenlund drew a foul on the play, but freshman midfielder David Walker’s ensuing free kick sailed into the Titan’s wall.
“[Rosenlund] is probably about 90 percent, and the major issue is still his fitness,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “Every game and every day he trains, he’s a little bit closer.”
The defense was solid yet again, putting up its third straight shutout – fourth in the last five games. The back line has held opponents scoreless nine times.
Fullerton had a golden opportunity in the second half when forward Eugene Brooks gathered the ball and went one-on-one with senior goalkeeper Kyle Reynish, but Reynish stopped his first attempt and then also stopped the second while still on the ground.
Although it won the match, UCSB continued to struggle to find the back of the net. The squad has scored just six goals in its last five games, and has netted more than two goals only once this season. Rosenlund’s return from injury has helped the Gaucho offense as the 2005 Hermann Trophy candidate has tallied four points over the last three games. Santa Barbara had plenty of opportunity, notching 20 shots, but could not extend its lead.
“I’m past the fact that we’re going to score three or four goals in a game,” Vom Steeg said. “I’m reserved to the fact that we can just get one and go out and play good defense. Maybe that’s just the way we go the rest of the season because we certainly can’t seem to put more than one up. There wasn’t a lack of opportunities tonight.”
Santa Barbara will be without senior midfielder Eric Frimpong in its next match as he picked up his second yellow card of the night in the game’s final minute.
The win gives the team a season sweep of Cal State Fullerton after defeating them 2-1 in double overtime on the road earlier this season. The Gauchos next take on defending Big West champion Cal State Northridge at Harder Stadium this Wednesday.
“We came out like it was the first game of the season,