After being on the road for its first three matches, the ninth-ranked UCSB men’s soccer team makes its regular season home debut Friday against Valparaiso. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at Harder Stadium.
The Gauchos (2-0-1) are coming off their first shutout of the season, a 3-0 clean sheet against Gonzaga in its Nike Classic in Spokane, Wash. The team has scored seven goals on the season, with senior Nic Ryan and junior transfer Achille Campion leading the squad with two goals apiece.
Sophomore goalkeeper Austin Mansker has played well in his first season on the pitch. He owns a goals against average of 0.93.
Freshman Ema Boateng, the 2012 Gatorade National Player of the Year from Cate School, has given the Gauchos some good moments. He has two assists, including one on Ryan’s game-winning goal in the season opener at Loyola Marymount.
Valparaiso has a local connection. The Crusaders’ head coach, Mike Avery, was a two-time NAIA All-American at Westmont, where he played from 1986-89. He’s entering his sixth year at the Indiana school. He was an assistant at Notre Dame and Louisville before landing the head job at Valpo.
Avery has led Valpo to three of the four winningest seasons in program history. The Crusaders won the Horizon League regular season title last year.
Valpo enters the match with a 1-1-1 record, coming off 1-0 loss to Western Illinois. This is its first trip to UCSB since 2000. It lost 4-0 to coach Tim Vom Steeg’s second Gaucho team.