Conference openers are a team’s first chance to prove its prospective worth in league play, and for the UCSB men’s soccer team, that worth was not shown as the Gauchos fell to UC Riverside last night by a score of 3-1. It was just the second time this year that the Gauchos, the preseason pick to win the Big West, allowed three goals in one game.

“We failed to do something with our opportunities,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “We made a couple mistakes and paid.”

With the loss, UCSB falls to 6-2-1 overall, 0-1-0 in league play. UCR improves to 6-2-1 overall, 1-0-0 in the Big West.

The Gauchos had the same problems capitalizing on offensive opportunities as they have had during previous games. Whereas a 23 goal effort ended in a 2-0 win against Sacramento State this past weekend, UCSB’s 21 shots yielded just one goal during yesterday’s match against UCR. Eight of the Gaucho attempts were saved by UCR senior goalkeeper Cody Suppe. Of the 18 shots on goal by UCR, junior goalkeeper André Grandt was able to save six.

During the 17th minute, it was UCSB sophomore forward David Opoku that knotted the game at 1-1 after a series of passing between junior midfielder Machael David and senior midfielder Luis Silva.

“Machel David laid the ball down to Silva and took off,” Vom Steeg said. “Machael David got the ball down the line and served it across the box, David [Opoku] just had to knock it down.”

It was the only time a UCSB attempt reached the back of the net, as the following 16 shots failed to give the Gauchos a point.

“It was one of several combinations we had that resulted in goal scoring opportunities,” Vom Steeg said.

Within the first two minutes of the second half, Grandt was forced to make a pair of impressive saves on shots by the UCR offense. It wasn’t until the 59th minute that a UCR attempt found its way past Grandt, giving the Highlanders a 2-1 lead. 10 minutes later, Grandt was forced into a 1-on-1 situation against an opposing UCR attacker. A shot to the far post pushed the Riverside lead to 3-1, where it would remain for the rest of the game.

“We definitely need to improve on our mistakes that we made tonight as a team,” senior defender Tim Pontius said. “They knew what they wanted to do on their field and they capitalized on their opportunities.”

Silva led all players with eight shots, four of them on-goal.

“The amount of time we spend at practice is still not correlated to goals in games,” Vom Steeg said. “It’s up to us [coaches] to work with players and it’s up to the players to produce more.”