Sept. 21, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - After Columbia tied the game at 1-1 in the 36th minute, the 14th-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team scored twice in the final three minutes of the first half and went on to defeat the Lions 5-1 in a non-conference match-up Friday night at Harder Stadium. Junior midfielder Alfonso Motagalvan scored his first goal of the season, netting the game-winner in the 43rd minute and senior forward Andrew Proctor scored less than two minutes later.
With the victory - UCSB's third in its last four matches - the Gauchos' record now stands at 3-2-1, while the Lions fell to 0-5-0.
"We did a lot of good things tonight," head coach Tim Vom Steeg said. "We got a lot of our guys in the game and I felt like we really responded after Columbia tied it at one in the first half. Anytime you can score five goals, you have to feel like you had a pretty decent night."
After a couple missed opportunities early, Santa Barbara took a 1-0 lead at the 16:39 mark, capitalizing on a Columbia miscue. Senior forward Tino Nuñez and junior midfielder Eric Avila raced towards a loose ball in the Lion backfield when a defender failed to connect going forward. Nuñez tracked it down and dribbled past Columbia's center back. One-on-one with goalkeeper Michael Testa, the Long Beach, Calif. native scored his second goal of the season inside the left post as the Gauchos' struck first.
The Lions responded with the equalizer nearly 20 minutes later. Defender Hayden Johns dribbled up the center of the field and with the Gaucho defense on its heels, fired a high shot from 40-yards out that found the top left corner of the net just beyond the reach of Santa Barbara keeper Bryant Rueckner.
While Vom Steeg and the UCSB coaching staff definitely did not want to allow a goal to a Columbia squad that had scored just once all season entering Friday's match, Johns made the type of incredible shot that a coach has to take his hat off to.
The visitors' goal was soon forgotten as Santa Barbara answered back less than seven minutes later when junior forward Nick Perera carried the ball towards the end line on the right side with two defenders on his back. The 2006 College Cup Most Outstanding Offensive Player then turned and sent a right-footed cross through the box for Motagalvan, who punched in a one-timer to the lower left corner just inside the post for the eventual game-winner at the 42:17 mark.
Not content with a 2-1 first half lead, the Gauchos continued to attack offensively and tacked on another goal just 1:38 later. Proctor came off the bench and made an immediate impact, taking the ball from just across midfield and pushing down the left side. After holding the ball for several seconds, the Burnaby, B.C. native cut towards the box and sent a swerving shot towards the net from just outside the 18-yard box. His offering sailed past a diving Testa and into the upper right hand corner to give UCSB a commanding 3-1 lead heading into the locker room at halftime.
Santa Barbara extended its advantage to 4-1 after intermission when Avila scored his second goal of the season at the 54:27 mark. Senior midfielder Brennan Tennelle got a ball on the right flank and fired a shot from just inside the 18-yard box. His shot was deflected in the box and the rebound bounced out to Avila on the left side, where he promptly sent a ball to the far side of the net past Testa diving to his right.
The Gauchos put the finishing touches on their convincing victory in the 76th minute for the final 5-1 margin. Attacking on the left side, sophomore midfielder Jon Curry crossed to the center of the box for defender Martin Hedevag, who had just entered the game seconds earlier. The newcomer from Gothenburg, Sweden scored his first career goal in the blue and goal on his first touch of the game, lifting the ball into the center of the net over Testa's head to give the Gauchos' their first five goal performance since defeating Akron 5-0 to open their national championship season in 2006.
Continuing to spread its offense around, UCSB's five goals Friday night were scored by five different players, with Motagalvan, Proctor, and Hedevag all finding the net for the first time in 2007.
Santa Barbara dominated play for the duration of the match and out-shot Columbia 22-4. After allowing four shots in the first 45 minutes, three of which were on frame, the Gaucho defense put the clamps down and held the Lions without a shot in the second half.
UCSB gave Testa all he could handle between the posts, recording 13 shots on goal. The senior keeper made eight saves, doing all he could to keep his team in the game. Rueckner's evening wasn't nearly as busy, as the rookie needed to make just one save to earn his third victory.
The Gauchos will now take on sixth-ranked Harvard Sunday afternoon at Harder Stadium. The match, originally scheduled to take place at Sullivan Field as part of the LMU Invitational, has been moved to Santa Barbara because of poor field conditions at Loyola Marymount after heavy rain in the area Friday. Kickoff is still slated for 1:30 p.m.