Having lost five of its last six games, a team member and the opportunity to compete in the NCAA Tournament (ending an 11-season streak), the UCSB men’s soccer team was in desperate need of a win to end its season on a more positive note.
For the Gauchos, that win came on the road in the form of a 2-1 victory against Sacramento State yesterday in its second-to-last game of the season.
Santa Barbara improved to 10-5-3 overall and 4-4-1 in the Big West, but remains in last in the North Division with 13 points. Sac State drops to 8-7-2 overall and 5-3-1 in conference, moving into a tie with Cal Poly for second place.
“[This] was one of the biggest wins for us this year,” senior midfielder Nic Ryan said. “We’ve gone through [some] hard times the last couple weeks and this has [put] everybody in a good mood.”
UCSB saw its first major scoring opportunity in the 14th minute. Senior midfielder Dion Acoff was pulled down in the box, resulting in a penalty kick for the Gauchos. Freshman midfielder Ema
Boateng stepped up to take the kick, but the shot was saved by senior goalkeeper Bryan Oliver. Oliver currently leads the Big West in saves with 6.2 per game.
“[Oliver] guessed it right,” Baiden said. “Before [Boateng] was going to take it, he had to stand there for a long time. He hit it well, but the goalie guessed it.”
With the game still tied, UCSB received a break in the 19th minute when senior defender Matt Linenberger received a red card for arguing with the official, giving the Gauchos a one man advantage the rest of the game.
Junior forward Cesar Castillo took the free kick from about 25 yards out, which was saved by Oliver. When Oliver landed, however, both he and the ball were across the goal line, giving the Gauchos a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute. The goal was Castillo’s first of the season.
“That was a good shot,” Baiden said. “I think the goalie was expecting him to cross it and he just went for it.”
Despite playing a man down, the Hornets equalized in the 39th minute on a defensive breakdown at midfield by the Gauchos. Junior defender Matthew Glodack passed the ball back to sophomore keeper Austin Mansker, but left the pass short. Sophomore forward Chimdum Mez picked up the pass, and with a one v. one with Mansker, fired a shot from just outside the 18-yard box. Mansker left his line to cut off the angle, but had no chance of saving Mez’s shot, which tied the game at one apiece.
“It was one of those games [just like] we’ve seen before [where] we’ve been up and we give up an easy goal,” Ryan said. “It was devastating, but we’ve been talking about how we need to let those things go. I thought we dominated the rest of the game.”
UCSB regained the lead in the 55th minute when Glodack sent a beautiful pass into the box, which was headed into the back of the net by freshman forward Charlie Miller.
“The second goal was huge,” Baiden said. “In all the games we’ve played, we get in front and then we’re tied and we end up losing.”
Unlike in past games where Santa Barbara relinquished its lead late, UCSB held on to its 2-1 lead for the victory, snapping a three game losing streak.
UCSB plays its final game of the season Saturday at Cal Poly.