In a game that featured nine yellow cards and four red cards, the UCSB men’s soccer team battled to a 2-2 draw with the UC Davis Aggies (6-2-2 overall, 1-1-1 Big West) on Friday night. Despite crushing Davis 4-0 just two weeks prior, the Gauchos found all they could handle and more in this contest. On a soaking wet pitch at Harder Stadium on a cold and rainy night, tempers flared between the two Big West squads, including a fight that resulted in three ejections.
Despite ending the game with a two-player advantage thanks to the red cards, UCSB (6-2-3 overall, 3-0-1 Big West) was unable to put the game away. Boasting an over 300 minute scoreless streak, the Gauchos came into the game confident in their defense and looking to attack. But it was the Aggies who scored first, capitalizing on a Gaucho defensive breakdown in the first ten minutes. Eight minutes into the first half, Davis junior forward Quincy Amarikwa took advantage of a poor pass on the Santa Barbara backline and evaded a sliding Bryant Rueckner, resulting in a wide-open shot on net. Amarikwa wasted no time in putting it away, and in no time the Aggies were ahead 1-0.
Passions rode high through the first twenty minutes, with three players receiving yellow cards. However, it was not until the twenty-third minute that things really got exciting. After getting called for a foul, Gaucho defender Andy Iro went to plead his case with the referee. As he did so, Amarikwa came in to give his two cents as well, and Iro lost control, shoving him away with a hand to the face. Immediately the Aggies retaliated, with Nicholas Lind coming in and shoving Iro in the back. Chaos broke loose after that, with all 22 players on the field getting involved.
“After someone goes down, we needed to get over there and make sure we had Iro’s back,” sophomore midfielder Jon Curry said.
After the dust had settled and the referees had sorted everything out, Iro and Lind were both issued red cards, as was Aggie Dylan Curtis. The end result of the brawl left the Gauchos with a much needed ten-on-nine advantage. With the extra man, Santa Barbara put pressure on the Aggie backline, but the Davis defense held strong throughout the remainder of the half, and deep into the second half as well. It wasn’t until the sixty-fifth minute that the defense finally gave in, when junior midfielder Alfonso Motagalvan evened it up. Junior midfielder Chris Pontius took a pass from Curry and fired on the net. Aggie Brian Wickers made the save, but couldn’t secure the slippery ball and after several seconds of confusion it found the feet of Motagalvan, who promptly tapped it across the line. The goal sparked the Gauchos, and just a minute later they struck again.
Junior midfielder Eric Avila ripped a shot on goal that was blocked, but senior forward Tino Nuñez was right there for Santa Barbara. Nuñez took the ball at his feet and rocketed it into the left side of the goal.
“It just popped up right to me, and I was happy to get it in,” Nuñez said.
Now playing with a man advantage and a one-goal lead, it looked as though Santa Barbara was in control. However, late goals have plagued the Gauchos all season, and this game would be no exception.
With just five minutes to play, Aggie junior midfielder Dan Campbell played a perfect crossing pass over the Gaucho defense to junior defender Jake Mogelson, who put the ball away immediately to even the score at two goals apiece. The game would go into overtime, and though Santa Barbara would get a two-man advantage for the final seven and a half minutes, nobody was able to put the ball into the net, and the game would end in a draw.
“It feels like a loss,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “We lost two free points. We gave away the first goal, we gave them the last goal. We had chances to finish this game, and we just didn’t finish it.”
The Gauchos return to action on Wednesday Oct. 17 at Cal Poly, where they will be without the anchor of their defense, Andy Iro. With Iro out because of the red card, and senior defender Greg Curry already out with a knee injury, UCSB will play with a lack of experience on the back line that hasn’t been seen from a Vom Steeg team in years. The game is set to kick off at 7 p.m. in Cal Poly.