The longest unbeaten run in nine years came to an end for the UCSB men’s soccer team on Sunday.
Cal State Northridge got a goal in the 31st minute and made it stand up for a 1-0 victory over the fourth-ranked Gauchos before 3,781 at Harder Stadium.
UCSB is now 8-1-3 and 2-1-1 in the Big West, while Northridge improves to 9-4-0 and 3-1-0.
The result marked the second straight Sunday the Gauchos have drawn a blank in the scoresheet.
“Every Sunday game has come down to us not being able to score,” a disappointed UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “We didn’t score at Fullerton and we got one goal against Harvard. It’s not a whole lot you can do from an energy standpoint; you just hope the chances you get you put them away. We definitely had quality chances to finish.”
The loss ended a 10-match unbeaten streak, the longest since the 2004 national runner-up team went 12 games without a loss to start the season.
Ironically, it was Northridge that handed the Gauchos their first defeat that season.
When the game ended Sunday the Matadors celebrated like they’d won the Big West title, jumping on each other and screaming.
“Any time you come up north and get shutouts against Cal Poly and Santa Barbara on their home fields you got to commend your whole defense,” said Northridge coach Terry Davila about his team’s performance. The Matadors won 2-0 at Cal Poly on Friday. “To get six points out of this weekend is very exciting, especially getting three points against Santa Barbara. Not many people get three points in Santa Barbara, so we’re very excited.”
Beto Velasquez scored the winning goal for the Matadors in the 31st minute. He dribbled down the right wing, cut inside as defender Mathew Glodack fell down and was left one-on-one with Austin Mansker. He ripped a low shot the went under the Gaucho goalkeeper at the near post.
“We had a hunch Beto was going to have a good matchup and he did, and he played a really good first half,” Davila said. “He deserved that goal.”
Vom Steeg said it was disappointing no one came over to help on defense when Velasquez broke free.
The coach has been playing a patchwork backline almost every game due to injuries.
“Again, we played with a back line that’s absolutely just put together,” he said. “We knew we had a problem in the back playing against a team that’s a good offensive team. We were relying on us getting two goals and it’s disappointing we weren’t able to step up to that challenge.”
Mansker came up with back-to-back saves to keep the Matadors off the scoreboard earlier in the half. He first blocked a 20-yard blast by Rene Anguiano and then made a reaction kick save on a point-blank shot by Brian Behrad on the rebound.
The Gaucho offense, meanwhile, missed three great opportunities before Northridge’s goal. Dion Acoff received a nifty through ball from Nic Ryan on the right side of the box but Acoff hit his shot wide of the far post in the fifth minute.
A nice passing sequence set up Charlie Miller for a shot from 12 yards, but Northridge defender Armando Gutierrez stepped up and blocked it. Ema Boateng also missed a quality chance from close range.
Ten minutes into the second half, Castro was fed on a breakout from midfield but his shot on the run from 18 yards sailed over the bar. He also missed wide on a header off a cross from Josue Madueno.
Vom Steeg didn’t want to use fatigue from Friday’s game as an excuse for the missed chances.
“I say it caught up with us but at the same time, we put (shots) on frame and we’re out of here,” he said. “That’s the disappointment. It caught up with us but not really, because we had enough opportunities. Maybe it wasn’t nine to ten; it was four. And, of the four chances, you have to look for one.”
He told the team in the locker room before the match: “ ‘Someone needs to win us the game today.‘ And we didn’t get it, and that’s disappointing.”