UCSB Men's Soccer Advance in NCAA Tournament

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UCSB Men's Soccer Advance in NCAA Tournament
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UCSB vs Saint Mary's (Photo: bktruong.p / UCSB)

By Arthur Wilkie, UC Santa Barbara

Hard work and the wealth of experience that the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team accrued over the course of the regular season proved to be key for the Gauchos in their 4-0 takedown of 12th-seeded Saint Mary's in the NCAA Tournament Second Round matchup at Saint Mary's Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Following an injury to senior defensive midfielder Sahid Conteh in Thursday's 3-1 win over Cal, head coach Tim Vom Steeg shook up his lineup by placing senior Mateo Restrepo Mejia and redshirt freshman Sam Fletcher as defensive midfielders and handing a first career start to senior Derek Kryzda to take on an attacking-minded midfield role.

The gamble paid off as the trio provided support in all facets of the game, committing their high-workrate playstyle to the cause as the Gauchos (14-4-4) looked for their first trip to the third round of the tournament since 2015.

It all began in the 32nd minute, when the Gauchos outsized the Gaels in the box on an Ignacio Tellechea corner kick that was headed downward by junior centerback Hunter Ashworth into the path of senior wingback Noah Billingsley at the goalmouth for the Kiwi's first score of the season.

Senior attacking midfielder Thibault Candia had a chance to double up on the Gaels in the 52nd minute, but his chance flew over the crossbar.

In the 57th minute, Saint Mary's attacker Jakub Svehlik had a chance to get things back on level terms as he was played into a one-on-one chance inside the box, but his shot hit the left post and bounced away.

Santa Barbara finally found its second goal in the 65th minute, as junior defensive midfielder Kaya Fabbrettipounced on a misjudged ball in the Saint Mary's backline and found a wide-open Will Baynham in the middle of the 18.

The game opened up as the Gaels were left to try to dig themselves out of their hole, and the Gaucho attackers benefitted as Rodney Michael made it 3-0 after making a run on the shoulder of Saint Mary's left back and burying a ball from sophomore striker Carter Clemmensen.

 

 

Michael completed the rout, and his brace, in the 80th minute when Fabbretti played the Sierra Leonean through onto goal, and he buried the ball into the left side of net over the right shoulder of Saint Mary's goalkeeper Remi Prieur.

Sophomore goalkeeper Ben Roach made four saves and earned his eleventh clean sheet of the year, moving into a tie for fourth-most in a single season in program history with Bob Tuler's 1978 campaign.

"That's the second consecutive game in which we won the midfield battle. I thought the turning point in the game came in the second half, when Rodney [Michael] and Will [Baynham] started getting it going on the right side between the two of them. When that happened, that's what created all of our chances," said Vom Steeg after the match.

Another shutout would see him equal Kyle Reynish's 12 in 2006, when the Gauchos won the College Cup.

The win over Saint Mary's was the largest upset by seed in the second round, and the Gaels allowed four goals today compared to just two in the last nine games leading up to today's match.

The three goals scored against Cal on Thursday and the four goals today are the most scored in back-to-back NCAA Tournament games by the Gauchos since they scored nine across the 2004 quarterfinal match against Virginia Commonwealth (4-1) and semifinal vs. Duke (5-0).

UCSB travels to Indiana to play the fifth-seeded Hoosiers on Sunday, Dec. 1. The time of kickoff is still to be determined.

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Delore Nov 26, 2019 06:29 PM
UCSB Men's Soccer Advance in NCAA Tournament

I second that emotion, OOPS! My step-grandson plays for the Gauchos. We were able to watch the match online and cheered loudly throughout. Go UCSB!

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