The #13 UCSB men’s soccer team suffered its first loss in seven games, falling on the road to Cal Poly (6-5-3 overall, 3-2-2 Big West) 2-1 last night in overtime in front of 8,125 fans and Fox Soccer Channel’s national cameras. The loss brings the team’s record to 1-3-2 in extra time matches this season.

[media-credit id=20124 align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]The game was a return to the squad’s early-season struggles, as it outshot its opponent 23-13 — including eight shots on goal — without converting goals to pull out the win.

“I had about three opportunities in the first half that I should’ve converted and didn’t,” sophomore forward Sam Garza said. “You either score or you don’t. We can’t have that many chances and not score.”

Such a loss has implications in the Big West Conference as well, with the Gauchos slipping to 6-2 in league (10-4-2 overall) and into second place in the conference behind UC Irvine. Luckily for Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg’s team, there will be an immediate opportunity to regain ground in the Big West as the Gauchos travel to Irvine this Saturday to take on the Anteaters.

“Now we’ve got to go look at Saturday’s game against Irvine and find a way to get a win down there,” Vom Steeg said. “Absolutely the guys should be fired up to play.”

Out of the team’s 23 shots, UCSB was able to put only one into net, an unassisted goal off the foot of freshman forward David Opoku in the 19th minute. The Ghana native is second on the team in goals scored this season with five, including two game winners, and taking 19 shots. Opoku’s goal knotted the match at one after an early goal from Cal Poly midfielder Junior Burgos that slipped past Gaucho senior goalkeeper Sam Hayden in the ninth minute.

During regular time, UCSB’s and the Cal Poly’s goalkeepers recorded five and seven saves, respectively.

Although he went scoreless, junior midfielder Michael Tetteh put up five shots of his own in his fourth game back from a hip injury.

“I don’t know if we were panicking, but we were just not on our game tonight,” Tetteh said. “We played UCLA in front of 15,000, so this isn’t the first time for us in a game like this. Now we have to put this game away and go to Irvine and win, that’s all.”

Added Vom Steeg, “We had plenty of opportunities and we didn’t bury them. We had a very, very good first half but didn’t put away chances. Then in the second we went flat, they made some adjustments and we didn’t. At the end of the day, I don’t think we played poorly, but when we played well we didn’t put away chances.”

UCSB has two more matches remaining in its regular season, including the match against UC Irvine and its final home match against UC Riverside. In order to maintain a high seed in the conference tournament, as well as keep a place in the national spotlight for the NCAA Championships in November, the team must bring its best game to Irvine.

“I think Saturday is a huge game for us,” Tetteh said. “We need to go over there, don’t worry about this loss and just get it done.”