The UCSB men’s club soccer team added two more victories to their record by defeating Berkeley and UCLA this weekend. Saturday night, the Gauchos (8-0-2 overall) blanked the Golden Bears and controlled the game throughout. Sunday, the Gauchos gave up only their third goal all year to UCLA. Despite giving up the goal, the Gauchos look as strong as ever and pretty much have wrapped up their seventh California Collegiate Cup Soccer league title in a row.
“Ninety-nine percent certain league is ours”, said Junior Keeper Joel Katz. “Bar a miracle, the [league] title is ours.”
The Gauchos are quickly becoming a dynasty in college club soccer and have dispatched several powerhouses. Berkeley came into the game undefeated in the league, but the Gauchos tamed the Golden Bears by a score of 2-0. Senior forward Corey Vermillion scored his second goal on a breakaway to put the Gauchos up 1-0.
“Its always good to score,” Vermillion said. “[We] played well as a team.
The Gaucho defense proved strong again this time, as Berkeley was their seventh shutout. The one goal was all the Gauchos needed for a victory, but sophomore midfielder Francisco Navarro notched his first goal of the year to put the Gauchos up 2-0, which would be the final result.
Sophomore keeper Chris Harris received his fourth start of the year and the game would be his fourth shutout. The young keeper has not relinquished one goal all year and remains humble, allocating the credit to his defense.
“Its easy [to get a shutout] when the defense plays this well,” said Harris.
The UCLA game would turn out to be more of a battle.
The Gauchos struck first as usual. Senior forward Armando Flores scored his first goal of the year to put the Gauchos up 1-0 heading into halftime. Junior forward Nick McEachin] then tallied his third goal of the year with two minutes of play left. At this point, Head Coach Randy Eskilson substituted his starters for his reserves. Then, UCLA struck a goal on a free kick. Despite the goal, the Gauchos won and have essentially wrapped up another league title.
“It was a solid win for our team. Our guys showed a lot of heart out there and gutted it out until the final whistle,” said Katz.
The Gauchos now only have one game left in league play against University of San Francisco. UCSB has pretty much wrapped up the league title and will be heading into the regional tournament in the same position as last year with all but one exception: number of goals allowed. Last year they allowed three goals the whole year, including at the Regional and National tournaments. This year, they have already given up three, but junior defensemen Roman Stahl remains confident.
“The offense is a lot better this year,” said Stahl. “As long a we can score goals, it does not matter if we give up a couple.”
The Gaucho’s home game against USF this Saturday will be their last for the season. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Harder Stadium.