UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg had seen it happen before to his team in the NCAA men’s soccer tournament.
In 2003 at St. John’s, the referee didn’t bother with the stadium clock and 10-second countdown and the Red Storm scored a tying goal in “extra time” and beat the Gauchos in overtime.
In 2004 at North Carolina-Greensboro, forward Neil Jones was ejected after the first three minutes and the Gauchos played 106 minutes a man down and pulled out a victory.
In 2007 at Ohio State, the referee missed a blatant Ohio State foul against Andy Iro and the Buckeyes scored and beat the Gauchos in double overtime.
On Sunday, in a second-round NCAA Tournament game at Cal, the Gauchos felt they were foiled by some questionable calls by the head official in a bitter 2-1 overtime loss to the Bears.
The loss ended UCSB’s dream of reaching the College Cup that’s being held at Harder Stadium.
In his postgame press conference, an impassioned Vom Steeg railed against the officiating and the NCAA’s handling of the men’s soccer tournament.
Here are some of his remarks.
“I will qualify my statements by saying I have my checkbook, so the NCAA can take my money,” he said in his opening comment.
“I’ve been in the sport, coaching Division 1 college soccer for 12 years and what I had to experience out on that field was not fair for me, not fair to my coaching staff, and was not fair to my players.
“I know exactly what I’m saying here. The fact is that we have a sport here, men’s soccer, which has yet to rise to the level where (NCAA officials) actually understand it can be a big-time sport.
“We treat soccer very differently in Santa Barbara. For soccer in Santa Barbara, it is our No. 1 sport. We don’t have football there. We draw 15,000 people to a game. We have fans that travel all the way up from Santa Barbara to watch this game. We have fans in the Bay Area.
“We have done more for college soccer and yet, at the same time, even though we’ve done so much for college soccer what we end up getting is a situation where we still administratively have not figured out how to put on a proper championship.
“We can’t figure out how to do a College Cup right. We cannot still figure out that you cannot have an official who lives within driving distance from the site. We have no ratings system for any of these officials, and so what ends up happening is you cannot tell me that this particular person does any Pac-10 games. How’s that? How did we get somebody that hasn’t done a Pac-10 game this year?
“So, somewhere somebody dropped the ball.
“My responsibility is to coach. The responsibility of my players is to play. The responsibility of the NCAA and the (tournament) committee is to figure how to put on a good championship that is fair and it’s balanced.
“I don’t knock Berkeley, they didn’t do anything wrong. But the bottom line is we are done for the tournament. What I have is a red card on a play that was not even a foul and when that player stood up he was punched. He falls to the ground and he gets the red card and the other player gets the yellow. I’m not sure how that happens.
“And then, with 1:30 left, a shot from the midfield with 17 players on top of the 18-yard box, somehow it’s a PK on a handball from 40 yard out.
“This isn’t the first time I had to explain it to my guys. I don’t how to explain it to my seniors. This about the third time this has happened. It happened at St. John’s, it happened at Ohio State.
“And every single year I go back to the NSCAA convention and the committee and say.
“For the good of the players and the good of the game, can we fix this? Can we not fix this? It’s not hard. Can we fix it?
“I don’t mind being the person who has to call it out for what it is.
“Once again, the conversation will be about my comments right now, my criticism.
“Soccer is a really, really big deal in Santa Barbara and that was a hard loss for our fans and for our players. Our school does care.”