SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – After getting off to its best start since the 2004 season, the fourth-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team saw its unbeaten streak come to an end on Sunday evening when it fell, 1-0, to visiting Cal State Northridge at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium.
With the loss, UCSB drops to 8-1-3 on the season and 2-1-1 in Big West Conference play. The Matadors improve to 9-4 overall and they maintain their lead in the league's South Division with a 3-1 league mark.
The Gauchos, who had gone unbeaten through their first 11 games, were one game shy of tying the 2004 squad's season-opening streak of 12-straight games without a loss.
Northridge, meanwhile, had a streak snapped as well; its four-game losing skid against UCSB ended. This marked just the third time in the two teams' last 12 meetings that the Gauchos have fallen.
UCSB had a great opportunity to get on the board early on in the match when Nic Ryan fed the ball to Dion Acoff on his right side in just the fourth minute. The senior took a shot from just outside the six-yard box to the far post, but it rolled just a foot or so wide of the goal.
Acoff took another stab in the 24th minute when he went streaking down the side of the field, split two defenders and fired a shot from 16 yards out on the right side of the Matador goal. The ball sailed high over the goal and the game remained scoreless.
Shortly thereafter, the lone goal of the match came in the 31st minute as Beto Velasquez scored for the sixth time this season. Carlos Benavides began the play when he got the ball on a turnover and then fed it to Velasquez on the Matador's defensive end of the field to begin the fast break. Velasquez, who was being marked by Mathew Gloadack, raced down the right side of the field before cutting into the box. Glodack was able to get between the Matador and the goal, but slipped and fell, leaving Velasquez wide open. He fired a shot that went through goalkeeper Austin Mansker's legs to put Northridge ahead, 1-0.
While the Gauchos were down early, it was nothing new for the group as they have trailed 1-0 at halftime in three of their prior four home matches this season before coming from behind. Unfortunately, this time, the comeback did not occur.
UCSB out-shot the Matadors, 7-5, in the second half and Javier Castro was busy as he took all four of his game-leading four shots in the second stanza, but the forward saw his shots come up short – and high.
With the clock ticking down on the final minutes of the match, the Gauchos – who tallied a game-winner with just 24 seconds to go during Friday's pairing with UC Irvine – kept plugging away.
During the last two minutes, Trevor Morely pulled down Acoff 25-yards out during a Gaucho fast break. The Matador was given a yellow card and the Gauchos were awarded a much-appreciated free kick. Castro took the kick, but it deflected off of Northridge's wall.
Castro took the resulting corner kick and UCSB threw everyone forward, including Mansker, for one final go at it. Despite several attempts to connect with a game-tying shot, the Gauchos came up short as the Matador defense successfully clung onto their clean sheet.
For the match, the two teams went toe-to-toe in shots (12 each), saves (four each) and fouls (11 each). Northridge led in shots on-goal (5-4) and the Gauchos had a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks.
In goal, Mansker had another solid outing as he tied his season-high of four saves. One of his most impressive plays of the game came in the 25th minute when he made a diving save on a shot by Rene Anguiano and then used his foot, while still lying on the ground, to deflect Brian Behard's shot off the rebound.
UCSB will continue Big West action next Saturday, Oct. 13 when it travels to UC Davis for a 3 p.m. match. The Gauchos will then return home for a four-game home stand, which includes pairings with Sacramento State (Oct. 16), Cal Poly (Oct. 19), Stanford (Oct. 26) and UC Davis (Oct. 28).
To purchase tickets, stop by the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, call (805) 893-UCSB or click here.