Facing Big West North conference leader Sacramento State, the UCSB men’s soccer team delivered an outstanding performance Tuesday night in a critical league game, defeating the Hornets by a score of 2-0.
Coming off two games without scoring a goal, the Gaucho offense came prepared to play as Sac State had no answer for the multitude of UCSB weapons.
“We just had to come out big and get some shots … We wanted to set a tone, come out, shoot a lot, try to hit a target, and get something good off it,” freshman midfielder Ema Boateng said. “A team like us shouldn’t lose twice in a row, especially getting closer to the playoffs, and getting to the end of the season is where we have to pick up, so I think it’s a good win.”
With the victory, UC Santa Barbara snaps its two-game skid and improves to 9-2-3 overall and 3-2-1 in the Big West. Meanwhile, the Hornets fall to 7-5-2 overall and 4-1-1 in conference. The Gauchos now have 10 points in league, sitting in third place along with Cal Poly. Sac State sits atop the crowded Big West North with 13 points.
Offense came in a hurry for the Gauchos, as Boateng rocketed a shot from 30 yards out into the top corner of the net in the seventh minute to give UCSB its first goal of the match.
Less than a minute later, senior midfielder Nic Ryan scored his team-leading seventh goal of the season, capitalizing on a hard shot that was not handled by the Hornet goalkeeper. Ryan easily capitalized on the failed clearance from inside the box for a 2-0 advantage.
“Ema got the ball off a throw in and kind of cut in and banged one with his left foot,” Ryan said. “We pressed again, we got the ball, [senior defender Peter] McGlynn got it out wide, just crossed it and it came right to me, it was kind of a lucky thing.”
Santa Barbara controlled every aspect of the first half, putting pressure on the Hornet defense and dominating the offensive flow of the game. Sacramento State was only able to get off one shot in the half, getting outshot by the Gauchos by a 12-1 margin.
UCSB went back to work in the second half, controlling the ball and frustrating the Sacramento State offense. Santa Barbara managed to create plenty more scoring chances, putting up 12 shots while limiting the Hornets to six, but came up empty and settled for the 2-0 victory.
“I actually thought we played a very good first half,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “I really felt we defended well. I thought we controlled the game, we were on the ball most of the night and I thought we had good energy.”
Up next for the Gauchos will be the Blue-Green rivalry game against conference opponent Cal Poly. More will be at stake on this rivalry matchup as each team is tied for third place with just five games left to play in the season.
“Friday’s game is crucial and every game from now on is definitely big,” Ryan said. “We know we have to win all of them and we’re confident we can do that.”