Only one game this weekend mattered for the No. 25 UCSB men’s soccer team this weekend, and it failed to come away with a win.
After losing to non-conference opponent Stanford 1-0 in overtime Friday night, the Gauchos lost a must-win game against UC Davis Sunday by a score of 2-1. The loss marked the first time in program history that the Aggies have beaten the Gauchos twice in a single season. It was also the fifth loss in the last six games for UCSB.
With the pair of losses, Santa Barbara drops to 9-5-3 overall and 3-4-1 in the Big West. Six points out of playoff contention with only two games remaining, UCSB’s chances of making playoffs are extremely slim. Davis, on the other hand, takes control of first place, improving to 8-5-4 overall and 6-2 in the conference.
“It’s hard,” senior midfielder Nic Ryan said. “We’ve got a couple games left, but I don’t think we’re going to make the Big West tournament because of this and that was our goal for the year, so we feel like we’ve failed.”
The Gauchos looked like the better team the entire game and were extremely dangerous from the start, outshooting the Aggies 26 to 11.
“Every game we play, it’s the same story,” junior midfielder Fifi Baiden said. “No matter how many shots you have, if you don’t put them on frame or put them in the back of the net, they don’t really count. We were hoping for that second goal, but we unfortunately didn’t get it.”
In the 28th minute, UCSB finally found the back of the net on a goal from senior forward Achille Campion, who was back in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 16 due to injury. UCSB exhibited beautiful passing with junior midfielder Goffin Boyoko receiving a ball streaking towards the endline, who passed it back to Ryan in the penalty box. Ryan then sent the ball square to freshman midfielder Ema Boateng, who flicked it to Campion. Campion converted for his sixth goal of the season and give UCSB a 1-0 lead.
“It was a nice build up play,” head coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “It’s something we hadn’t seen and something we’ve been looking for as far as combination play. It was great.”
UCSB continued to dominate the possession in the first half, but went into halftime tied at one apiece due to a goal by Davis with three seconds remaining in the first half. Davis sent a ball into the box, which was headed down by junior defender Peter Schmetz. Unfortunately for the Gauchos, the header went off the heel of Boyoko and landed into feet of sophomore defender Ramon Martin del Campo, who passed the ball to sophomore forward Matt Sheldon. Sheldon sent the ball across the goal and past Mansker to equalize the game.
“We kept saying, we’re due to catch a break…something has to go right,” Vom Steeg said. “It’s crazy. You’d think you’d get a break on something and we didn’t get one today. [The ball] can’t go off his heel and bounce up or go somewhere else?”
Entering overtime deadlocked at one goal, Sheldon came up big once again for his team. On a long throw in by the Aggies, UCSB sophomore keeper Austin Mansker came out to grab the ball, but missed. Scrambling ensued in the box. Sheldon got a shot off, which was blocked by Schmetz on the goal line. However, Sheldon converted on the rebound.Sheldon led the Aggies offensively with the two goals on four shots.
“They got a throw in, which is their best way of scoring,” Ryan said. “The ball rolled to one of their players and they put it in.”
The Gauchos begged the referee for a foul call, claiming Mansker was pushed and that his arm was grabbed, but was unsuccessful.
“We like to control the result, but I feel the ref took that away from us,” Ryan said. “He called a lot in the box the whole game and to let guys go up like that and hit our keeper is totally on him.”
As the team started to walk off the field, senior defender Peter McGlynn pushed the ref to the ground, earning himself a red card. He was escorted off the field by UCSB police, although Vom Steeg said the referee doesn’t plan on pressing charges.
“When you say, ‘well I think everything could go wrong,’ now it has,” Vom Steeg said. “I didn’t see it coming. Obviously, [his season is] done. There are lines you don’t cross, and if you cross the line, the privilege to be a Division I college athlete is gone.”
In Friday’s non-conference match-up against Stanford, UCSB lost 1-0 on a golden goal in overtime, the team’s second consecutive loss in extra time. With the win, the Cardinal improve to 7-7-1.
“We did a lot of good things, but no one wanted to score,” Vom Steeg said. “We just didn’t put the ball in the back of the net and that’s the extent of it.”
It took over 95 minutes for either team to score, with Stanford securing the win on a header from their leading scorer, Adam Jahn. Sophomore midfielder Jimmy Callinan sent a beautiful cross from about midfield into the box, which Jahn snapped into the back of the net, past sophomore keeper Austin Mansker, who had no chance of saving the shot. The goal was Jahn’s ninth goal of the season.
“The only thing we discussed was the fact that the only way this team was going to score was if the ball goes wide and they cross it into the box,” Vom Steeg said. “They had two guys open on that last play, so that’s a breakdown.”
The Gauchos outshot the Cardinal 16-12, including 7-3 in the second half, but both team shot an even four shots on goal.
“I didn’t think we had a whole lot of chances, but we had some good ones that would’ve allowed us to score and take the game,” Baiden said. “We aren’t taking advantage of our opportunities.”
Santa Barbara’s best opportunity came in the second half with just 21 seconds remaining in regulation when senior midfielder Dion Acoff dribbled down the left sideline before cutting in and taking a shot from the center of the 18 yard box. Unfortunately for UCSB, the shot went wide left.
“It’s frustrating because we do a lot of good things and I thought we got good performances from different players, but it’s the same repeating theme — nothing on frame,” Vom Steeg said.
Leading the attack for the Gauchos was McGlynn, who took three shots on the evening. In the first half, McGlynn struck a bending ball from the right side of the box that had Stanford’s keeper beat, but rolled just wide of the post.
“I thought he hit three really good shots,” Vom Steeg said. The one was very unlucky that it went just wide of the post. McGlynn, right now, is one of our better players and he’s playing at a high level.”
UCSB will play its final two games of the regular season next week with Sac State on Wednesday.