Sept. 21, 2008
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The good news for the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team was that they found the back of the net twice against Wake Forest, ending a four-match scoreless streak by the Demon Deacons.
Unfortunately, that's about where the good news ended Sunday evening for the Gauchos.
Facing top-ranked Wake Forest in a match-up between the past two NCAA champions, the Deacons handed UCSB its worst home loss under Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg, defeating the Gauchos 6-2 in front of 7,408 at Harder Stadium.
The six goals allowed were also the most a Vom Steeg-led UCSB team has given up as Wake Forest received their half-dozen goals all from different players. The previous amount was five goals allowed, done twice, last on Sept. 27, 2006 when the Gauchos lost 5-0 to Cal State Northridge.
UCSB, ranked as high as 14th, falls to 4-3-0 as Wake Forest, ranked first in every national poll, improves to 6-0-0.
Hermann Trophy candidate Marcus Tracy, who was the College Cup's Most Outstanding Player last season when he led Wake to its first-ever soccer title, tallied a goal and two assists. Corben Bone had a goal and two assists while Sam Cronin, another Hermann Trophy candidate, also scored for the Demon Deacons.
UCSB's Hermann Trophy candidate Chris Pontius also scored a goal - his sixth - but it came at 77:03, well after the match had been decided. For Pontius, it was his third goal in the short two-game homestand after he scored twice on Thursday in a victory over Evansville.
The sizable crowd, which had fans arriving two hours before the match started until well after kick-off, saw the Gauchos actually score first when Nick Perera blasted in a shot from 10 yards out on a nice assist from Bryan Dominguez. It was Perera's first goal of the season and it came just one minute, 50 seconds into the match.
UCSB held that 1-0 advantage almost until halftime as freshman goalie Trond Helge Takset had four first-half saves en route to a career-best six. However Bone banged in a shot with 48 seconds remaining in the first period when Tracy sent him a pass to the left of the goal and Bone sent the ball inside the right post, knotting things up at 1-1.
From there, Wake Forest was too fast and controlled the ball far too easily in the second half, peppering Takset with 12 shots and scoring three goals in a 17-minute stretch as the Deacons showed why they are considered college soccer's best team.
Ike Opara scored his first goal of the season at 49:11 when he headed in a ball off a cross from Bone. Cronin scored for the second time this year when he put home a low shot from the center of the box from 12 yards out and Tracy scored his sixth goal this season on a three-on-one.
The Gauchos tallied just 11 shots, their fewest in a game this season and Sunday was also the first time all year they had been out-shot in a match.
The game represented the inaugural Santa Barbara Challenge Cup, a yearly event that matches the Gauchos at home against a top-tier team. Next season Indiana is already scheduled to face the Gauchos at harder Stadium.
First, though, UCSB travels to take on the Hoosiers - the team that defeated the Gauchos in the 2004 College Cup final in penalty kicks - this Saturday in Bloomington, Indiana.