Despite an exciting 2-1 double overtime victory Friday night against UC Irvine, Cal State Northridge handed the No. 4 UCSB men’s soccer team its first loss of the season in a 1-0 decision at Harder Stadium.
The Gauchos drop to 8-1-3 overall and 2-1-1 in the Big West. The loss was the first given up by UCSB to Northridge in Santa Barbara since the 1999 season.
In a battle between the two best offensive teams in the Big West, the Matadors struck first on a shot by junior forward Beto Velasquez. Dribbling down the right sideline, Velasquez cut in and shot the ball on the ground, through sophomore keeper Austin Mansker’s legs and into the back of the net to give Northridge a 1-0 lead 31 minutes into the game.
“We were playing with a defense that at best is extremely tired (from playing on Friday),” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “The goal we gave up was on a guy picking up the ball at half field and running 50 yards. That was disappointing.”
Overall, the two teams shot an equal 12 shots, but UCSB was unable to convert any of its chances.
“This [loss is] disappointing because I feel this is one we needed to win,” Vom Steeg said. “It was at home and yes, Northridge is a good team, but I knew today with our forwards attacking their defenders we would get four or five excellent opportunities. We needed somebody to step up and finish, and we didn’t get that.”
In Friday’s 2-1 double overtime thriller against Irvine, Ryan propelled UCSB to victory, scoring both goals for the Gauchos, including the game winner with just 24 seconds remaining. The win gave UCSB its first victory against the Anteaters since 2009.
“As soon as [Ryan] got that goal, [I knew] it was by far the best win since I joined the team,” junior midfielder Fifi Baiden said.
Santa Barbara started the match strong, dominating possession. Yet, despite outshooting Irvine 8-4 in the first half, it was the Anteaters that got on the board first. On a counterattack, sophomore forward Lester Hayes III cut inside toward the goal and shot from just outside the 18-yard box. Hayes converted, putting the Gauchos down 1-0 to the lowest-ranked in the Big West.
“For me, it was way too easy of a goal,” Vom Steeg said.
Just over three minutes into the second half, senior forward Dion Acoff passed the ball to Ryan, who fired the ball into the far top corner of the net, tying the score 1-1.
“What I said at halftime is that we’re not going to get shut out tonight,” Vom Steeg said. “We pushed a lot of players forward. We just needed one goal to change the momentum.”
With time dwindling in the second overtime, Ryan took over. After taking a corner kick, which was then deflected back out to him, Ryan crossed the ball back into the box. It bounced twice in the box before passing an outstretched Irvine keeper and settling into the corner of the goal.
As a team, UCSB outshot Irvine 21-13. Ryan led the attack for the Gauchos taking five shots, three of which were on goal.
“He put the team on his back and gave us victory,” Baiden said. “He played well the whole game. He was incredible.”