When a good team rebounds from a slump, there tends to be a notable moment things turn around. Coming off a big win at Indiana last weekend, the #15 UCSB men’s soccer team looks to have turned that page with a comeback tie against UCLA. The Gauchos (5-3-1) had previously been dominated by the Bruins (2-3-4), who hold an all-time 28-3-3 advantage over SB. But after 2006’s National Championship win, last night’s split marks two unbeaten games for Santa Barbara. UCLA refused to play UCSB last year after the championship upset, but last night the Gauchos showed they wanted to compete.

After scoring an early goal, Santa Barbara conceded two goals in early portions of the second half. After being initially overpowered, UCSB clawed back in and eventually knotted things up in the 77th minute, thanks to a skillful individual effort from senior forward Chris Pontius. Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg felt that the Gaucho’s performance showed a lot of their growth from the beginning of the season.

“I think that for the first time in seven weeks, I like where we are and I like the places where we have the players now,” Vom Steeg said. “We have a very good idea of what our weaknesses are and what our strengths are.”

Freshman forward Luis Silva struck first, scoring his first goal as a Gaucho in just the 13th minute. Fellow freshman midfielder Danny Barrera sent Silva the ball just outside the box, and Silva finished with a laser into the top corner. Silva said that the match, which had a lot of emotional ties for both sides, got a little rough, but that Santa Barbara held up fine.

“That’s how we play; we come out physical,” Silva said. “It’s definitely something that we’re used to. It was physical both ways.”

Silva said that although the Gauchos entered the game feeling they could win, they could be content with recovering and pushing the match to a tie.

“It’s better than a loss,” Silva said. “Everybody wants to win, but it just couldn’t happen this time.”

UCSB held the 1-0 lead into the locker room, but the Bruins came into the second half with nothing but scoring on their minds. Just three minutes in, freshman goalkeeper Kristopher Minton saved one of the Bruin’s shots, but the rebound was collected by David Estrada and put away to even the game up at 1-1. Only eight minutes later, another rebound found the feet of Maxwell Griffin, who found the back of the net for the fourth time this season. The 11-minute breakdown aside, Minten said that Santa Barbara played well in the back.

“The defense played well, we kept our shape,” Minton said. “There’s a lot of tension between us and UCLA, they’re kind of our rivals. They had something to prove.”

The Bruins barrage could not last the rest of the game, and things soon settled into a frantic stalemate. With time slowly running out, Pontius brought the ball through the box and sent a bullet into the right corner from just inside the area. The game-saver was Pontius’ eighth goal of the season, his fifth in the last four games. Both teams locked into a scoreless battle for the last 10 minutes, and neither of the overtime periods proved fruitful.

For Santa Barbara, the exciting tie was bittersweet. Minton said that UCSB felt energized about facing UCLA, but the tie keeps the momentum going from their 2-1 win over then-#10 Indiana.

“We’ve never won [at UCLA], so we were hoping for a big win, obviously,” Minton said. “A tie is good, though. We did well, but the second half is always what kills us. We were very proud, winning at Indiana and getting a tie at UCLA. Those are two big games.”