Nov. 13, 2010
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara (13-4-3) secured a berth into its ninth-consecutive NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship with a 3-1 win over Cal State Fullerton (7-12-2) in the Big West Championship final on Saturday night at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium.
The Big West Championship title is the Gauchos' first since the league began holding a tournament during the 2008 season. UCSB is receiving the conference's automatic berth for the first time since the 2007 season.
Following the match, Luis Silva was named the Big West Conference Tournament MVP. The junior midfielder scored the eventual game-winning goal in the 23rd minute of Saturday's match. The goal was his team leading third game-clincher of the season.
"I am very excited for our players tonight," head coach Tim Vom Steeg said of the win. "We have been 0-for-2 (in the Big West Tournament) so to finally get that game, get it back here and to be able to enjoy it with our fans - it is a great night."
UCSB grabbed the early lead in the match when, in the 20th minute, Nic Ryan drew out his defender outside the box before slipping a cross to Danny Barrera at the top of the box. The junior shot the ball low to the left side of the goal to put the Gauchos up, 1-0.
Less than three minutes later, Luis Silva had his own cross attempt deflected back. He gathered the deflection on the right side of the box and shot the ball to the far side of the goal past Fullerton goalkeeper Trevor Whiddon.
The Titans did not trail for long. Kevin Venegas was fouled and earned a free kick from about 25 yards out in the 28th minute. Venegas crossed the ball into the box where Jesse Escalante headed it into the left side of the Gaucho goal. The strike marked the first goal that Fullerton has scored at Harder Stadium since 2004, breaking a streak of five shutouts at the hands of the Gauchos on Meredith Field.
UCSB added a final insurance goal in the 68th minute when Michael Tetteh got the ball on a breakaway. He streaked down the left side before passing to Josue Madueno in the middle of the field. Madueno arced the ball over Whiddon, who had come out of the goal, to put the Gauchos ahead, 3-1. The goal marked the first of the sophomore's career.
The Gauchos led the Titans in shots, 25-8. They have now led their opposition in shots in 22 consecutive contests dating back to the 2009 season. UCSB's 15 shots on goal tie its season-high, which was also posted against Fullerton on Oct. 6. Barrera led all players with five shots and four on goal. Silva and David Opoku each had four shots.
In goal, Sam Hayden made three saves on his way to his 10th victory of the season. The Gaucho defense was solid, limiting the Titans to just four shots on frame.
For Fullerton, Whiddon had another solid outing against the Gauchos, posting 12 saves for the second time against UCSB this season.
UCSB will find out its fate in the 48-team NCAA Championship on Monday when the selection show airs between 1:30 and 2 pm on ESPNU. The Gauchos are holding a selection show viewing party in the Reitnouer Auditorium in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus. The viewing party is open to the public.
UCSB is the proud host of the 2010 NCAA Men's College Cup, which will take place Dec. 10 and 12 at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. This marks the first time since the 2004 season that the Cup has been held on the West Coast. All-Session passes for the College Cup can be purchased by calling (805) 893-UCSB, visiting the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or buy online by clicking here.