After one of their toughest losses in recent memory, the Gauchos (3-3-2 overall, 0-1-0 Big West) will look to pick themselves up against a struggling UC Davis (2-6-0 overall) this Saturday in their second Big West match of the year.
[media-credit id=20120 align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]They will have to play without senior goalkeeper Sam Hayden and sophomore forward Sam Garza, who were both given red cards in Wednesday’s match against Cal State Fullerton. Freshman goalkeeper Eric Reyes will start in the net for the Gauchos. Without Hayden’s presence, the UCSB defense might have to look elsewhere to keep pressure on the Davis forwards.
“[Hayden] is a huge loss but I have faith in whoever is going to be on the field,” senior defender Michael Boxall said. “[But] whoever comes in off the bench will give it a little bit extra to make sure we get the win.”
Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg also seemed confident in his new goalkeeper’s abilities.
“Reyes has played enough soccer,” Vom Steeg said. “He’s played in enough games. He’s regarded as one of the top five keepers in the country and one of our top recruits. We are certainly confident that he will do what he needs to do.”
The goal for the Gauchos will be to get on the board early, which they have been unable to do this season. Although they had 22 shots against Fullerton — 10 of them on goal — nobody was able to convert.
“We’ve hit the post more times this season than you will hit in two years combined,” Vom Steeg said. “We just have failed to do the last and most important thing, which is kick it in the net.”
The Aggies, who have not played a conference match yet, will come to Isla Vista with fresh legs against a Gaucho squad that exerted itself for a full 90 minutes as well as nearly all of an overtime period.
“Davis is a well-coached team, even though they had a rough year last year,” Vom Steeg said. “They’re very disciplined, very organized. They make it hard for you to score and aren’t a team you really want to play, but we don’t choose our opponents.”
In their last home match, UCSB students broke Harder Stadium attendance records and fans filled the stadium to capacity with nearly 16,000 people attending.
“We should be able to win against every team we play, whether it’s home or away,” Boxall said. “But it’s going to be huge. Playing for the home crowd is like having an extra player or two, it’s a huge boost.”