While overtime has been kind to the No. 2 UCSB men’s soccer team recently, the Gauchos were happy to avoid extra time Tuesday night as Santa Barbara defeated Sacramento State 2-1 for its seventh consecutive victory, clinching a conference postseason spot in the process.
Entering Tuesday, UCSB had won three straight overtime matches. Santa Barbara continued to find ways to win late in games, this time with freshman forward Ismaila Jome’s 75th minute goal being the difference. With the victory, UCSB improves to 11-4 overall and a perfect 6-0 in the Big West.
“It’s really important because we’ve been, three games in a row, in overtime, and we start to get tired,” senior midfielder Goffin Boyoko said. “Tonight, we wanted to win the game in 90 minutes so we can rest a little bit.”
Boyoko was one of the stars Tuesday, scoring UCSB’s first goal in the 22nd minute to give the Gauchos the early advantage. It was Boyoko’s sixth goal of the season, tied with senior forward Achille Campion for tops on the team and fourth in the Big West.
Jome and senior defensive midfielder Fifi Baiden both assisted on the play, as it was Jome’s sixth assist on the season, good for second on the team and third in the conference.
“I felt we were really dangerous in the first 25 minutes of the game,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “That 2-0 [lead] would have really kind of done the game, because this is a team, they’ve only scored seven goals all year.”
Sacramento State (2-9-3 overall, 0-6 Big West) responded in the 53rd minute with a 35-yard free kick goal from sophomore midfielder Edwin Luna that squeaked between the bottom of the post and the outstretched arms of freshman goalkeeper Josh McNeely. It appeared as if UCSB might need another overtime period if they wanted to pull out the victory.
“We were heading that way, but this was a game that had all the trappings of a disaster tonight,” Vom Steeg said. “I’m excited we won tonight. We needed one player to step up and give us a big play, and obviously [Jome] stepped up and gave us a big play.”
Jome ensured UCSB would avoid overtime with a tremendous unassisted play in which he powered his way through multiple defenders to retrieve the ball moments after he lost it, sending a goal past the diving arms of the goalkeeper.
“He’s been very good in first halves, but he’s kind of disappeared in second halves,” Vom Steeg said. “So we were very excited tonight about the fact that he gave us a really good push in the moment of the game where we needed him.”
For Sacramento State, it was the team’s sixth consecutive loss.
UCSB, meanwhile, holds a large lead in the Big West North and already ensured it will play in the postseason for the 11th time in the last 12 years.
“It feels great because we had some tough losses … where we played really well but we didn’t get the victory. Now we’re getting the victories we deserve,” Jome said.
UCSB next travels to rival Cal Poly on Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of October 23, 2013’s print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Photo by Peter Vandenbelt of The Daily Nexus.