The UCSB men’s soccer team hopes to rebound from three consecutive overtime losses when the team takes on Sacramento State in its second to last game of the season tonight.
The Gauchos have lost five of their last six games and sit in last place in the North Division with a 9-5-3 overall record and a 3-4-1 conference record. Sacramento State is currently second in the North with an 8-6-2 overall and a 5-2-1 Big West mark.
“They need to win, so they’ll be fired up at home to play us,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “We have to be able to compete on that field and not roll over and give up, which I know won’t happen with this group.”
While numerically the Gauchos have not been eliminated from playoff contention, the UCSB athletic department stated that the team will forego any playoff opportunities as a result of Sunday’s incident, in which senior defender Peter McGlynn pushed the ref after the team did not receive a foul call that eventually led to UC Davis’ golden goal.
With this year’s team being the first to not make the NCAA tournament in 11 years, the Gauchos are in serious need of a win to end their season on a more positive note.
“[The NCAA tournament] is what we dream about and that was taken away from us, so we definitely feel like failure,” senior midfielder Nic Ryan said. “But I think everybody knows that we are one of the elite teams in the Big West and we have to keep that model up.”
Playing against a team that has lost two if its last three games, the Gauchos will hope to find a quick goal on the road. UCSB currently leads the Big West in shots with 17.65 per game while the Hornets are last with just 11.44 per game.
However, Santa Barbara ranks last in the league in goals during conference play with just 1.12 per game, so UCSB will need to take advantage of its chances.
The Gauchos certainly executed offensively in their last matchup against Sac State, scoring two goals on 23 shots. The goals came less than eight minutes into the game and just 12 seconds apart.
“That game, we came out with a lot of energy and if we want the same result, we have to work hard and put some balls on frame,” junior midfielder Fifi Baiden said.
Scoring one of those goals was Ryan, who currently ranks fourth in the Big West in points with eight goals and one assist.
Leading the attack for the Hornets are a trio of players in senior midfielder Chris Sandoval, junior midfielder Gabe Silveira and junior forward Isaac Ikyurav. Silveira and Ikyurav have each scored five goals on the year while Sandoval has contributed four. The trio has also tallied nine assists.
“We have to be compact and aware,” Ryan said. “We have to play both sides of the ball: offense and defense.”
While both teams have dangerous attackers, UCSB and Sac State also feature the two best goalkeepers in the Big West. The Gauchos’ Austin Mansker leads the conference in goals against average at .88. On the other hand, Sacramento’s Bryan Oliver leads the league in save percentage and saves with 81.6 percent and 6.2, respectively.
Tonight’s game against Sacramento State is set for 7 p.m. at Hornet Stadium.