The No. 3 UCSB men’s soccer team remained undefeated after opening up Big West play on the road with a 3-1 win over No. 24 UC Riverside on Friday and a 0-0 draw with Cal State Fullerton Sunday night.
The Gauchos improved to 7-0-3 overall and 1-0-1 in conference. The Highlanders and Titans now sit at 8-2-0 and 4-7-1 overall, respectively.
“We had a great win on Friday,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “It was disappointing tonight because we needed someone to score tonight and we didn’t get that. ”
Sunday’s game against the Titans marks the first time this season UCSB has been shutout. On average, the Gauchos score 2.5 goals per game.
“I think we were unlucky because we had good chances,” senior midfielder Nic Ryan said.
In the game, Santa Barbara outshot Fullerton 17-9, including 5-2 in shots on goal.
The best chance to score, though, belonged to Fullerton in the second half, when sophomore midfielder Ian Ramos found himself one-on-one with Gaucho keeper Austin Mansker due to a counterattack. Luckily for the Gauchos, Mansker made the save on Fullerton’s only shot on goal in regulation.
“He broke out and I thought we did a good job of running with him,” Vom Steeg said. “Fortunately, Austin was very good.”
In the 80th minute, junior defender Daniel Welsh received a red card, forcing UCSB to play a man down the rest of the match.
“You hope to still find a goal to win the game but at that point, you don’t want to lose the game,” Vom Steeg said. “We had to change our tactics.”
In Friday’s clash of ranked teams, UCSB did what it was unable to do all of last season: beat Riverside.
“We lost to them twice last year,” Ryan said. “Knowing we only got to play them once, it feels good [to beat them].”
Aiding the Gauchos to victory was the play of freshman forward Charlie Miller, who tallied a goal and an assist in his first start of the season.
“We needed that kind of performance [from Miller],” Vom Steeg said. “Somebody had to step up for us and on that night it was Charlie.”
Miller began the game as a playmaker. Gaining possession on the edge of the Highlanders’ goal box, Miller passed the ball to freshman midfielder Ema Boateng in the 13th minute, who scored and put the Gauchos on the board first.
After a Riverside goal in the first half, the score remained deadlocked until the 70th minute when Nic Ryan drove down the sideline and fired a shot from 18 yards out. The senior midfielder connected to score his fourth goal of the season.
A red card given to the Highlanders with about 10 minutes remaining gave the Gauchos a one man advantage for the rest of the game. UCSB quickly took advantage, scoring 19 seconds later when senior forward Dion Acoff centered the ball to Miller, who then scored.