The Gauchos have been on a roll for the past two weeks as men’s soccer remains undefeated away from home and are currently rebuilding Harder Stadium’s reputation of being an impenetrable fortress for visiting teams.
UCSB’s latest victory came this past weekend when the Blue and Gold hosted the UMBC Retrievers for another Sunday night matchup. Ultimately, the Gauchos routed the visitors by a score of 4-0, in a very one-sided affair that saw senior forward Will Baynham’s second goal of the season and a career-game for senior midfielder Thibault Candia who went on to score a hat trick.
Following the win over UMBC, the Gauchos now extend their winning streak to four in a row. In addition, this now improves UCSB’s overall record on the season to 5-2, or a win percentage of .714.
The combined defensive efforts of UCSB’s backline and sophomore goalkeeper Ben Roach are also worth highlighting since the team has now earned back-to-back clean sheets — with no goals allowed against the opposition in three of their previous four encounters.
It was all Gaucho ball early on into Sunday night’s match as UCSB attackers tested the UMBC goalkeeper, Quantrell Jones, several times within the first 15 minutes of play. Then, by the 16th-minute mark, the Retrievers finally found their shooting boots and had their first shot of the match — which was blocked.
Only a few minutes had passed before the Gauchos’ response, and respond they did as Candia opened up proceedings in the 20th-minute after his cross was deflected into the back of the net by a UMBC defender, thus bringing the score to 1-0 on the night.
A second strike from the Gauchos came soon after as junior forward Rodney Michael forced a headed save from Jones, but the ball rebounded and rolled into the way of an incoming Baynham who then brought the tally to 2-nil. The remainder of the first half of play saw some substitutions from both sides and the first booking of the night which was served to Gaucho senior defender Faouzi Taieb.
Commencing the second half, the home side kept its foot on the pedal and continued to test Jones with shot after shot. Naturally, UCSB’s imposed presence within UMBC’s 18-yard box was rewarded as the Gauchos were awarded a penalty at the 61st-minute. Once more, Candia was clinical from the spot and netted in his second of the match and extended UCSB’s lead to three.
The third goal seemingly sucked the life out of UMBC, but the fourth was truly the nail in the coffin as Candia made two enemy defenders look foolish and put more than enough power on
his shot from a distance to beat the Retrievers’ goalkeeper, thus securing his hat trick and UCSB’s 4-0 victory at home.
To close out the second, two UMBC players were given yellows and UCSB managed to carry the clean sheet into the final whistle — senior forward Ignacio Tellechea was also booked in the 53rd-minute.
Overall, the Gauchos are picking up steam and will hope to carry this momentum into next week’s difficult doubleheader.
UCSB travels for an away game at the University of the Pacific this Wednesday, Sept. 25, before hosting No. 1 in the nation Stanford at Harder Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 28; both bouts kick off at 7:00 p.m.