Oct. 26, 2005
Davis, Calif. - 17th-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's soccer had that feeling of déjà vu this afternoon before clamping down and pulling out a 3-2 double-overtime win on the road at UC Davis. Freshman forward Eric Avila played hero once again, netting his second consecutive game-winning goal against the Aggies to improve UCSB to 9-3-3 on the season.
Missed opportunities and an early mistake put Santa Barbara behind the eight-ball from the start of today's non-conference match. Just like last week at then 11th-ranked UCLA, the Gauchos gave up an early goal on a set piece deep in their defensive zone. UCD earned a corner kick in the matches' fourth minute and capitalized on its free kick. Juan Hernandez looped a ball into the box, finding the head of Russ Brown who hit it home to give the hosts a 1-0 lead at the 3:55 mark.
Once again down 1-0 early in the match to a team that was yet to lose at home this season, just as was the case at UCLA, head coach Tim Vom Steeg's squad needed to change it fortunes, and that it did. Senior midfielder Bryan Byrne received the ball out on the right flank just beyond UCSB's attacking side of the center-line. Byrne touch a couple of touches, drawing an Aggie defender out from the backline. Just as the defender got near, Byrne touched the ball to the inside and past the defender with his left foot before ripping a 15-yard blast past Davis starting goalkeeper Derek Schaffer just before the intermission. It was Byrne's team second-best fifth goal of the season.
Tied 1-1 coming out of halftime, the Gauchos were looking to add to their lead but again a couple of early miscues came back to haunt Santa Barbara. Davis midfielder Quincy Amarikwa carried the ball right through UCSB's midfield before hitting a through ball up to forward Ian Conklin. Conklin got around his man and was one-on-one with Gaucho goalkeeper Kyle Reynish. Reynish, who was 5-for-5 on breakaways last week, found himself on the losing end of the percentage game and was deftly side-stepped by Conklin with the ball and UCSB once again found itself trailing less than five minutes into the half, down 2-1 in the 50th minute.
Needing a change in his attacking third, Vom Steeg pushed Preseason All-American defender Andy Iro up the forward line, a move that paid off. Entering the latter half of the second half of play, UC Davis gave Santa Barbara a golden opportunity to tie the match in the 72nd minute. With Byrne closing in, and Aggie defender was forced to play the ball back to the goalkeeper Schaffer. Under pressure, Schaffer made the mistake of picking up the pass just outside of the 6-yard box, giving Santa Barbara a free kick from very short range and picking Schaffer up a yellow card, had the pass been on frame it would have resulted in a red.
And the ensuing free kick from less than ten yards out, sophomore forward Andrew Proctor touched the ball off to Byrne who fired a shot into the Davis wall standing on the goal line, creating a rebound in front of the net. Already in the box, Iro leapt above the UCD defense and headed home his second game-tying goal in as many games, and his fourth overall goal of the season, matching his season total from last year.
Now tied at 2-2, the match got really interesting as UC Davis' Schaffer was given his second yellow card of the match in the 81st minute, forcing head coach Dwayne Schaffer, the father of the latter, to insert back-up Brian Wickers into the match. The card was Davis' sixth booking of the match and one of eight total cards given to the Aggies on the day. Schaffer, the head coach, was given a yellow card following the match. UCSB was given four, however, three of those were handed out in overtime after the hosts had been booked seven times to Santa Barbara's previous one. UCD also held a 36-30 advantage in total fouls called, it was the highest total seen by UCSB this season.
Wickers did his part at keeping Santa Barbara at bay for the remainder of regulation, the first overtime period, and most of the second overtime period. Rather, UCSB held itself at bay, missing a number of quality chances down the stretch, shooting wide, high, or just not shooting at all, as Wicker did not record a single shutout in his 29-plus minutes.
Staring their fourth tie of the season in the eye, Santa Barbara finally managed to find the BACK of the net in the final minute of play thanks to spectacular shot from Avila. Having earned their eleventh and final corner kick of the match to their attacking right, Byrne touched the ball off to Avila near the corner. Avila carried the ball across the top of the box and unleashed a wicked shot from 30 yards out that beat Wickers to the upper-V, sealing the victory for the Gauchos. The goal was Avila's fourth of the season overall and his second game-winning goal. His first game-winner came two weeks against the Aggies at home in Harder Stadium when cracked a shot between the legs of his defender in the 82nd minute of the match to give UCSB a 1-0 win.
Santa Barbara's defense was once again strong, holding UCD to just ten shots in the double overtime affair, with just three winding up on frame. And after making the move to the forward line, Iro, a defender, led the team with ten total shots in the match, five on goal. UCSB ultimately outshot the hosts 27-10.
The Gauchos now return to Santa Barbara after handing Davis its first home loss of the year to host Cal State Fullerton in a key Big West showdown this Saturday, October 29th at 7:00 p.m. Undefeated in league play at 4-0-2 (14 points), UCSB is looking to climb back into first place in the Big West standings as 5-0-1 (16 points) Northridge is idle this weekend with a match to be played tonight at Cal Poly.