The UCSB men’s club soccer team defeated league rivals SDSU and USD this weekend, and now has sole possession of first place in the California College Cup Soccer League.
The Gauchos (6-0-2) remain unbeaten and are now “sitting pretty,” as senior forward Zach Smith said. Since it is undefeated, and all other teams have suffered at least one loss, the Gauchos may be able to wrap up the league title next weekend for the seventh time in a row.
While the Gauchos played two exciting games this weekend against formidable opponents SDSU and USD, the latter game would prove to be the most exciting, as the Gauchos gave up only their second goal of the year.
The Gauchos opened up their weekend homestand against SDSU Saturday night with a 2-0 victory. Sophomore midfielder Rolando Mota put the Gauchos on the scoreboard first with a free kick that found the back of the net. The precision shot was Mota’s third goal of the season. Later, Mota took another free kick that found the feet of Smith, who booted in his first of the year. After the game, Smith chuckled about finally notching a goal.
“It’s about time I scored,” Smith said.
While the Gaucho defense continued its impressive play against SDSU by not allowing a goal for what would be its sixth shutout of the year, it was less effective against the Toreros. Due to a miscommunication by junior keeper Joel Katz and the Gaucho defense, UCSB gave up its second goal of the season.
USD drew blood first and left the Gauchos trailing, a position the Gauchos have not been familiar with this season. However, the heroes of the SDSU game would also propel the team to victory against USD. Mota found Smith near the goal, who in turn put it away for the 1-1 equalizer.
When the second half began, the Gauchos came out firing. They had several shots on goal, and were penetrating the Torero defense frequently. Then Mota, Saturday night’s hero, found the back of the net to push the Gauchos one ahead of the Toreros, ultimately giving the Gauchos a victory. The final outcome would be 2-1.
“[It] felt good to score”, said Mota. “We needed these [victories] in order to be in the driver seat for the season.”
Mota now leads the Gauchos with four goals and is tied for the lead in assists with two. Nick McEachin, who is second on the team in goals scored also played brilliantly, but his efforts were unrewarded as he was unable to score. The UCSB defense also played significantly well. They might not be pleased as they gave up their second goal of the year, but the Gaucho defense was resilient and fought until the end. The Gaucho goal differential is now a startling +10, as both sides of the ball have played extremely well.
The Gauchos will play Berkeley at Rob Field this Saturday. Kick off is slated for 7 p.m. The Gauchos will then head south to face the Bruins of UCLA at Westwood. The match will begin at 1 p.m.