It took a game-winning goal by senior midfielder Luis Silva with 19 seconds left in double overtime for the UCSB men’s soccer team to finish off Cal State Northridge 3-2 on the road Tuesday night.
The victory over CSUN gave the Gauchos a 12-5-1 record overall and a 5-4-0 record in the Big West. With the win, UCSB secures its top-four spot in the Big West and a berth in the conference tournament. Northridge drops to 7-8-1 overall and 3-4-2 in league play and will be unable to achieve a top-four finish in the conference.
The game winning score was credited as an ‘own-goal,’ meaning that the Northridge offense had accidentally scored on its own net. Yet it was Silva’s shot that ricocheted off of a CSUN defender into the Northridge goal, giving the Gauchos a last-minute win.
“[Silva] had the whole corner to shoot at,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “The goalie came out, he beat the goalie on a shot and as the ball was heading toward the net a defender ran across and put his foot on it.”
UCSB’s spot in the conference post-season tournament was solidified when Cal Poly lost its game against UC Irvine the same night. With the loss, the Mustangs drop to 3-5-1 in the Big West and remain out of reach for a top-four finish in the league.
The Gauchos struck first during the match on a goal by junior midfielder Josue Madueno during the 16th minute, assisted by junior forward Sam Garza.
“Josue made a run out of midfield behind the defenders,” Vom Steeg said. “Garza slipped the ball into him and Josue lifted the ball over the goalie.”
Northridge was able to counter during the 43rd minute, tying the game 1-1 at halftime.
Silva was able to tie the game during the 76th minute on a free kick from 45 yards out. The score to the left side of the goal gave UCSB a 2-1 lead that would hold until the final minutes of regulation.
A goal by Northridge freshman midfielder Yarden Azulay during the 88th minute gave the Matadors a chance to win in overtime, only to be beaten by Silva’s shot in the 109th minute.
UCSB outshot the Northridge offense 26 to 14, and also had the advantage in shots on goal with 11 compared to CSUN’s seven. The 26 shot attempts is a team-high for the season. As usual with must-win games, Tuesday’s match was a physical one. UCSB was called for 24 fouls while Northridge fouled 19 times throughout the game.
Junior goalkeeper Andre Grandt followed up a 6-save performance this past weekend against Cal State Fullerton with a 5-save outing Tuesday night.
Madueno and sophomore midfielder Fifi Baiden both left the game before the end of regulation because of injuries and their statuses for Friday’s match are uncertain.
“Losing those two players meant we had to go deep into our bench,” Vom Steeg said. “As a result we needed someone like Silva to figure what we needed [to win]. And he did.”
Game officials plan to review the footage of the game-winning goal, and a decision as to goal credit is currently pending. If Silva is credited with the goal, he will have tallied a league-leading 15 goals on the season, placing him among the top ten goal-scorers in men’s Division one college soccer.
The victory over Northridge moves UCSB into a tie with UC Davis for second place in the Big West. UC Irvine currently sits atop the league standings with a 6-3-1 conference record and 19 total points.
UCSB returns home this Friday at 7 p.m. to take on Cal Poly during senior night at Harder Stadium.