Taking down the defending national champion is an exciting part of any team’s season, but it was not the highest priority for the UCSB men’s soccer team. After beating reigning champs University of Akron this past Wednesday, the Gauchos will travel north to face UC Davis this Saturday in search of their first Big West conference win.
“It was an exciting night of soccer for us,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “Yes, it was the defending national champions but all of the sudden [we’re] back in conference in a place that’s difficult to play and against a very different style.”
The Gauchos are currently 7-3-1 overall after beating the Zips 3-2 in overtime. However, UCSB remains winless in league play after losing its previous two matches to UC Riverside and UC Irvine.
UC Davis is currently 2-1 in Big West play, and stands at 4-5-2 overall. UCD beat UC Riverside and Cal Poly each by a score of 1-0 after losing to Cal State Northridge in the Big West opener.
Junior midfielder Machael David will be missing from the lineup this Saturday after leaving the game against Akron during the 15th minute with a hamstring injury.
“It’s not a bad injury, but [we don’t want to] risk the chance of him being done for the season,” Vom Steeg said. “Instead of giving it three days [to recover] we’ll give it six or seven days and see how it feels.”
After sustaining a scoring drought of only three goals through more than 50 shot attempts during the three games prior to the match against Akron, UCSB was finally able to connect against the Zips. The Gauchos found the back of the net twice on 15 attempts during regulation and senior midfielder Luis Silva needed only 30 seconds in overtime to put away the third.
Silva is currently leading the Big West in goals with seven, followed closely by fellow Gaucho sophomore forward David Opoku, who has five. Silva also leads the team with 15 points and has one assist on `the season.
“With the help of the seniors like Silva and [senior defender Tim] Pontius we are looking pretty good right now,” Opoku said. “[Akron’s] passing and movement up top was excellent. We learned some stuff from them and we can take all that and put it into the season.”
UCSB earned its second overtime win on Wednesday. UC Davis is no stranger to extra minutes. The Aggies recently played a stretch of four consecutive overtime games that ended in two wins and two ties.
“Hopefully the momentum and the energy we had on the field will translate into our next game,” Vom Steeg said. “We need to play that high level against Davis.”
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday at Aggie Field in Davis.