The UCSB men’s club soccer squad came into the weekend undefeated, having been scored upon only twice all season. By the time Saturday’s match with Long Beach State reached its conclusion, nothing had changed, as the Gauchos shut out the 49ers.
Santa Barbara (7-0-1) claimed a dominating 4-0 victory at Harder Stadium Saturday night, and in doing so, looked poised to claim a sixth straight California Collegiate Club Soccer League title.
UCSB had already played Long Beach once this season, defeating the 49ers 2-0 in an early season tournament. The scoring started early for the Gauchos, who got on the board first during the fifth minute when junior Zach Smith streaked through the Long Beach defense and got a pass off to a sprinting attacker, who put in the uncontested goal.
After that, the play got decidedly sloppier. The Gauchos continued to control the tempo of the game, but were incapable of putting any shots between the pipe. UCSB had another good opportunity in the 17th minute when senior forward Jonny Lynch caught the 49ers keeper off guard, but his shot sailed high.
Despite the Gauchos getting the majority of the shots for the remainder of the half, it was Long Beach that had the best chance at scoring. In the 28th minute, the Santa Barbara goalkeeper was forced to make an acrobatic save on a 49er header. Despite several attempts from both sides, the half ended without another goal.
“It was our first game at home, and I think we definitely had jitters,” Head Coach Randy Eskilson said. “I just kept telling them keep patient, keep attacking and the game will change.”
The Gauchos did just that, striking again in the 73rd minute. Lynch – just a few hours removed from taking the LSAT – drilled a curving shot to the upper right corner of the net from 25 yards out.
“Coach gave me a guilt trip, saying I was studying too much instead of practicing with the team,” Lynch said. “He told me that if I was going in, I would have to score a goal.”
Following Lynch’s goal, UCSB found its rhythm. The Gauchos dominated the tempo and possession for the remainder of the game, and put another one into the net just five minutes later. Junior Gerardo Vicuna led his attacker perfectly with a rolling cross, and the shot went in on the near side.
Vicuna added another goal in the 85th minute, clinching the blowout and giving UCSB a 19-2 goal differential on the season.
“We started off well, but we couldn’t get that second goal,” Vicuna said. “As soon as we got it, the gates really opened.”
UCSB will next be in action on Saturday, October 13 when the Gauchos travel to San Diego to take on San Diego State’s Aztecs.