When the final seconds ticked off the clock at the College Cup game in St. Louis, Gauchos across Isla Vista and Missouri erupted in a spontaneous series of “Ole’s,” celebrating the men’s soccer team’s victory over UCLA, which gained UCSB its first NCAA Championship in almost 30 years.
As Bruin players sank to their knees and wept on St. Louis University’s field last Sunday, students in I.V. took to the streets in an impromptu parade, stopping traffic along Del Playa Drive, and eventually casting one of Harder Stadium’s soccer goals into the Pacific Ocean. The soccer team learned about the celebration in I.V. during a press conference in St. Louis after it had captured the school’s second national title, Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg, said.
“We got the first picture of the soccer goal at the conference – it made it across the country,” Vom Steeg said.
The Gauchos (18-7-0 overall) spoiled UCLA’s shot at its 100th NCAA title with its win. With three minutes on the clock, UCSB struck first behind sophomore forward Nick Perera to lead the Bruins for the rest of the match. Santa Barbara tacked on to its lead quickly into the second half when Perera passed to sophomore midfielder Eric Avila who netted the game-winner without any hesitation. The Gauchos maintained a lead for all but three minutes of the game.
After the match, the team spent the evening celebrating in an Irish pub, taking turns making speeches and enjoying a few hours of singing by the seven or so intoxicated Gaucho Locos in attendance, Vom Steeg said.
The team’s celebration in Missouri was slighted however, when about half of the team contracted food poisoning immediately after the game when they ate sandwiches provided by the NCAA, goalie and fifth-year law and society major Kyle Reynish said.
“At least half of the team was in bed, just struggling, throwing up,” Reynish said.
I.V., however, did not stay in bed, as the crowd of students and fans that gathered on Del Playa after the game made their way up Ocean Road, where they met with a smaller group of students carrying another sort of championship trophy – Harder Stadium’s soccer goal. The crowd, which UCPD spokesman officer Matt Bowman said was too large to be stopped, threw the goal off the cliffs from Camino Pescadero Park.
Stealing the $900 goal would be a felony, Bowman said, but UCPD is seeking no prosecution. As of press time, the goal still has not been found. Since the goal is made of aluminum, and therefore cannot float, it could have fallen to the depths of the ocean.
“As far as I know, it’s in I.V., or it’s starting a new fish habitat under the sea,” Bowman said.
Reynish and Vom Steeg said the team appreciated the revelry around UCSB while they were across the country. Reynish said he was proud that the UCSB community celebrated the victory, something he said might not have happened in Westwood.
“The one thing I really appreciate – and another reason we wanted to [win] – is we knew that in UCLA, the community would have no appreciation for what they’ve done, unlike here,” Reynish said.
The administration was also excited over the victory Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas said. The national coverage is good press for the university, and the administration did not mind that the students celebrated as well, he said.
“It’s not only nice to win a NCAA tournament,” Luca said, “But it’s also nice to deny another institution as well – whoever it may be.”
Even though the game was played 2,000 miles away from Southern California and was sparsely attended by UC students, Chancellor Henry T. Yang changed his schedule and weathered 15 hours of travel to attend. Yang decided he had to go to the game during a reception in Santa Barbara on Saturday night. He left the reception and headed straight to Los Angeles International Airport at 7:30 that night, he said.
“Throughout the reception, however, the thought was in my mind that our soccer team might need some moral boost in the cold weather out there,” Yang said.
Associated Students President Jared Goldschen also seemed very excited about the victory, as he led cheers with a megaphone down DP during the spontaneous parade. Although Goldschen said he does not condone the destruction of university property, he said the fans were simply expressing their joy over their school’s victory.
“Hopefully the goal’s recoverable,” Goldschen said. “If not, we were due for a new goal anyway.”
No students were injured during the celebration, Lt. Sol Linver of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol said. He said the victory parade was “just kids having a good time,” and the IVFP did not interfere with the revelry on Sunday.
“Nobody did anything bad, everybody having a good time, nobody broke into a fight, nobody broke any window… [the crowd] just saw the goal as a sacrificial offering,” Linver said.
The university will honor the team this Saturday at noon in Harder Stadium in a public ceremony. The first 500 students to appear will receive free championship T-shirts, Vom Steeg said.