As the UC Santa Barbara men’s soccer team begins their slate of preseason and non-conference games to get tuned up for the regular season, they have continued to win as they did for much of last season.
During the 2021 season the team dominated, winning 12 games and setting the standard for the upcoming season by dominating the Big West Conference Championship Final. The Gauchos are coming off a season in which they won the Big West Conference Tournament and were placed in the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Soccer Tournament. Although the Gauchos lost in the first round, it was to a talented Pac-12 school, UCLA who they lost to 0-1 in double overtime.
Coming off the 2021 season, their first preseason game came against the San Jose State Spartans. In the match, the Gauchos were completely dominant, winning 4-1 with the scrimmage being split into three 30-minute periods. The goals in the first game came from sophomore defender Lucas Gonzalez, sophomore forward Salvador Aguilar, freshman midfielder Eddie Villeda and sophomore midfielder Filip Basili. This was a true scrimmage game for the Gauchos as each of the active members of the squad were able to get some minutes on the field. One area they looked to improve was the fouls they committed on the pitch, which can also be attributed to it being their first preseason match.
The second preseason scrimmage was one that is an annual tradition, as the Gauchos hosted the Westmont College Warriors at Harder Stadium for the Community Shield Game. This was a dominating performance by the Gauchos, taking an easy 4-0 victory with goals from Aguilar, Basili and junior forward Finn Ballard McBride with Aguilar scoring his second goal of the night. The Gauchos once again were clicking on offense producing 26 shots and 12 shots on goal. Even more impressive, the Gauchos were able to hold Westmont to a mere 3 shots, with none of them forcing a save out of the UCSB’s keepers.
With the squad returning 10 of 11 starters from their Big West 2021 squad, it is easy to have high expectations for a talented team that added even more firepower. The Gauchos will go on to face Missouri State in Missouri for their opening season match. Then, they will play host to California Baptist University to end the month of play.
The Gauchos should be the favorites but look for the squad to be interchangeable until the regular season gets underway.