WESTWOOD — Trailing by a goal, UCSB threw everything it had at UCLA to get the equalizer in Sunday’s third-round game of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament.
David Walker and UCSB had their season ended by UCLA at Drake Stadium on Sunday.
But the Gauchos ran into red-hot goalkeeper in Brian Perk and saw their season come to an end. Perk made two huge saves in the second half to help the sixth-seeded Bruins hold off UCSB 2-1 at Drake Stadium before 2,458 fans.
Perk stopped a point-blank shot by Josue Madueno in the 61st minute and made a diving save on a blast by Luis Silva with 55 seconds remaining in the second half to deny UCSB its first win at UCLA.
“It came down to us staring at a keeper to tie the game up,” UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “We all felt good if we tied the game the momentum swings to our side and we finish them. We just didn’t get that second goal.”
The Gauchos created plenty of chances to score the second goal. They dominated the run of play in the second half and outshot UCLA 11-4. But the night belonged to Perk and the Bruins (12-3-4), who were seeking revenge for the 2-1 loss to UCSB in the 2006 College Cup final.
“We’re all still a little bitter from losing that,” said Perk, one of seven Bruin seniors who were on that 2006 team. “It’s good to let them know we’re still top dog.”
UCLA moves on to a quarterfinal matchup against third-seeded Wake Forest.
Vom Steeg said his team gave the maximum effort in its second road game in the playoffs. The Gauchos finished a fantastic year with a 17-5-2 record.
“I am very proud of the effort,” he said. “I thought in the first half we were a little bit tentative and I thought we were playing their game. We challenged the guys at halftime: ‘If you’re going to lose, there’s only one way to lose and that’s you just go at people. You got to take chances. You got to get after people.’ I give the guys a lot of credit. This is a team that has responded all year. I thought they responded in the second half.”
Danny Barrera, who was brilliant in setting up his teammates for excellent scoring chances during the second half, had a great opportunity to even the score himself in 69th minute. He got the ball 12 yards in front of the goal but he mishit his shot with his right foot and put it over the cross bar.
“Unfortunately, it was kind of like the tale of the night … it was to his right foot,” Vom Steeg said. “If that’s to his left, it’s done.”
On another great chance, Barrera passed to Michael Nonni on a near-post run but the freshman forward hit his shot into the side netting.
Martin Hedevag had a header trickle just wide of the far post.
Perk expected the Gauchos to challenge him.
“Whenever you’re ahead by only one goal against the quality of team they have, you know they’re going to press and give it all they have,” he said. “They have a bunch of quality players and they’re obviously going to play. We went to a 4-5-1 with 10 minutes left and just absorbed the pressure.”
All the scoring was done in the first half. David Walker gave UCSB the lead after a terrific sequence of passes in the 11th minute. Walker won a ball in the midfield and fed Barrera, who passed it to Peter McGlynn on the right flank. McGlynn sent a pass into the middle of the penalty area and Walker, timing his run perfectly, hit a one-time shot off of Perk’s hands and into the goal.
“Going into this game we knew their weakest part was their defense and it showed, especially on that goal,” Walker said. “It was a great ball by Peter, but at the same time it shouldn’t have gotten past three guys. I got lucky.”
Walker, playing in his final game for the Gauchos, scored in all three playoff games, giving him a team-high 10 goals for the season.
The Gauchos’ lead didn’t last for long.
UCLA answered five minute later off a corner kick by Kyle Nakazawa. Andy Rose received the ball and ripped a shot that was blocked by Gaucho goalkeeper Sam Hayden. Fernando Monge pounced on the rebound and poked it in to tie the game at 1-1.
“Scoring a goal on a set piece is not an easy thing considering the center backs they have,” said UCLA coach Jorge Salcedo.
The Bruins scored the eventual winning goal in the 37th minute on a nice piece of work between Nakazawa and Ryan Hollingshead. UCLA won the ball at midfield and got it to Nakazawa on a counterattack. He deftly passed across to Hollingshead, who beat Hayden for the goal.
“Our team is very dangerous when all of our offensive players are moving off the ball and getting the ball off their feet quickly,” said Nakazawa. “It was a good combination. Ryan did a great job finding one those gaps up there. It was a great finish.”
Vom Steeg said his team was in a man-to-man defense at the time and one of his players lost his man on the play.
In its eighth straight NCAA tournament appearance, UCSB reached the third round for the fifth time. The finish was an improvement over last year.
“My goal all long is you always want to go a little further than you did the year before, especially with a new group,” said Vom Steeg, who had only three seniors on the roster. “This group has taken the ball and rolled it and gone further.
“Seventeen wins is a great season for us.”