SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team improved to 5-0 at home this season with a 2-1 victory over Gonzaga on Tuesday night at Harder Stadium.
The Gauchos improve to 6-3 with the win, matching last season's win total with eight regular season games left to play. Gonzaga, meanwhile, falls to 2-6-2.
Fresh off his second career Big West Offensive Player of the Week honors, sophomore forward Rodney Michael continued his stellar play as of late with a goal and an assist in the first half to help UCSB take command of the match early with a 2-0 lead.
In the 27th minute, Axel Mendez sent a deep ball over the top to Michael, who raced into the box poised to score before the Gonzaga keeper came off his line and collided with him. With a yellow card on the play, Michael earned a penalty kick and sent it into the back of the net with ease to give UCSB a 1-0 lead.
GAU-CHOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHSSSS.#BWCAOTW Rodney Michael (27' PK) + Faouzi Taieb (32' via Ignacio Tellechea) ⬇️ combine forces for the @UCSBMensSoccer 2-1 win over Gonzaga.— Big West M-Soccer (@BigWestMSOC) September 26, 2018
The Nation's Greatest Soccer Rivalry up next, Sunday in San Luis Obispo, 7pm PT!#GauchoPride #PlayBig pic.twitter.com/Fm9vjHFD0R
The Gauchos tacked on another just moments later, in the 32nd minute, after an Ignacio Tellechea corner kick landed at the feet of Michael in the box, who tapped it to Faouzi Taieb, who directed it into the net for his third of the year.
Santa Barbara dominated possession throughout the first half, only allowing an occasional counter to the Bulldogs although they never threatened.
In the second half, Gonzaga managed to break through after its star forward Demitrius Kigeya scrambled away from the UCSB defense along the top of the box and sent a left-footed rocket into the corner of the goal.
With just minutes left to play, the Gauchos held on for the convincing win.
UCSB outshot Gonzaga 16-9 and held an 8-4 advantage in corner kicks. Tellechea finished with a game-high four shots while Migel Gomez and Michael added three apiece.
The Gauchos travel north this Sunday, Sept. 30 to kick-off the Blue-Green Rivalry at Cal Poly at 7:00 p.m.