It took more than 90 minutes to decide a winner Friday night as UCSB took on the Mexico U-20 National Team at Harder Stadium, losing 3-1 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie in regulation.
The Gauchos were especially aggressive early in the match, registering two quick shots on goal just 15 minutes into the game at the feet of junior midfielders Pete McGlynn and Danny Barrera. Fifteen minutes later, UCSB would be the first to strike as junior midfielder Michael Tetteh took a free kick from Mexico’s Luis Silva and blasted it low past the goalkeeper.
“It’s really good because I’ve been hurt for a while, now for five months,” Tetteh said to UCSB Athletics after the game. “This is my first time coming back and working hard and playing. To come back home and get a goal, for me, is big time.”
But Mexico would not roll over. It took just 11 minutes for a response when U-20’s Alan Izaguirre took a rebound and sent the ball in high for the equalizing goal before the teams headed in for halftime.
“In general I was very, very pleased with the way we played tonight in the first half,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “And then obviously things slowed down in the second half as we both started to make some changes.”
The second half saw just five shots combined, compared with 11 for the first half.
Mexico drew first blood in penalty kicks after Erick Franco slipped the team’s second shot past UCSB senior goalkeeper Sam Hayden. Sophomore midfielder Christian Ramirez jolted the Gauchos’ hopes as he equalized on the next kick. However, scored twice more and took the match in penalty kicks, 3-1.
“I thought we had a very good game plan,” Vom Steeg said. “We were familiar with their formations. There were places I thought we could get after them, and I thought we did that in the first half. It was a good step forward for us, and obviously a very competitive game.”
The Mexico match was UCSB’s final exhibition warmup. The regular season kicks off on Wednesday in a 7 p.m. match at Cal State Bakersfield.