Looking to keep the momentum up heading into the postseason, the #10 UCSB men’s soccer team faces Cal State Fullerton this weekend, hoping to inch closer toward wrapping up its second straight Big West title.

Coming off last weekend’s 3-1 victory over second-place Cal Poly (10-2-4 overall, 5-1-4 in the Big West), Santa Barbara (10-3-3, 7-1-1 Big West) has extended its winning streak to a season-high four. After losing twice in the season’s first five games, the Gauchos have been on an absolute tear, posting an 8-1-2 mark in their last 11 contests. The stellar play is reminiscent of last year’s season-ending run in which UCSB won 11 of its final 12 games en route to the NCAA Championship.

“The key for us remains the fact that we do need one more game to clinch,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “The way I look at it is we don’t want to leave anything to chance, you just want to get it out of the way on Saturday. We have a chance to punch our ticket to the playoffs. But you can’t take anything for granted this year.”

The Titans (7-8-2, 2-5-2 Big West) fought the Gauchos hard in their previous meeting at Harder Stadium on Oct. 6, but junior midfielder Chris Pontius was able to push across the game-winner in the 78th minute of UCSB’s 1-0 victory. Despite sitting in fifth place in the conference standings, CSUF has been playing its best soccer of the year of late, winning three of its last four matches, including a 3-1 road win at UC Irvine (6-7-4, 1-6-2 Big West) last week.

Coming into the season, much was expected of the sophomore Farfan twins in forward Gabriel and midfielder Michael. Michael Farfan was sidelined the first time these two squads met, but will have to be accounted for this time around as the Titan’s assists leader. A sophomore slump may be an understatement for Gabriel Farfan, who has yet to notch his first point of the season, despite appearing in 13 games and firing off 26 shots, second for the team.

“Fullerton is very good from [penalty box to penalty box] through the midfield, but they’ve struggled on defense and struggled up front,” Vom Steeg said. “It’s hard to put your finger on it, but if you look at the box score numbers you would think Gabe [Farfan] would put up more numbers. They’re both very good, among the best in the conference.”

The Santa Barbara offense has been rolling of late, scoring three goals in each of the past three contests. Pontius and sophomore midfielder Ciaran O’Brien have been in the thick of the attack and are atop the Big West’s scoring charts with 20 and 22 points, respectively. However, UCSB’s impressive showing of late has not been without its flaws. The Gauchos had to battle back from 1-0 deficits in each of their past two games, but were able to do so in resounding fashion, posting 3-1 victories both times.

“The most encouraging part of our team right now is that it’s such a stark contrast to last year,” Vom Steeg said. “We just could not bounce back. It’s a great confidence builder to know that even if you give up a goal your offense is explosive enough to get a goal back and more.”