It was nightmare finish to a game during a frustrating conference season for the UCSB men’s soccer team on Sunday afternoon at Harder Stadium.
After UCSB lost to UC Davis, 2-1, on Matt Sheldon’s golden goal in the 95th minute, Gaucho senior defender Peter McGlynn shoved referee Reed Christy from behind, knocking Christy to the ground. UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg, who had run onto the field to voice his displeasure with Christy that a foul should have been called on the play, pushed McGlynn away. UCSB campus police, who were already running onto the field when the game ended, grabbed McGlynn, put him on the ground, placed him in handcuffs and escorted him out of the stadium.
Here’s video of the incident
McGlynn was later released from police custody.
It was a sorry incident for a program that is a perennial contender for a national championship. Sunday’s loss all but ended a 10-year streak of UCSB making the NCAA Tournament. It won the national title in 2006.
UCSB, which was ranked as high as No.3 in a national poll, had its conference post-season hopes all but dashed with the loss. The fifth defeat in their last six matches leaves the Gauchos with little chance of making the Big West Conference Tournament. They fell to 9-5-3 overall, 3-4-1 in conference, with two matches left. UC Davis is 8-5-4, 6-2.
UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg said he didn’t see McGlynn before the player struck the referee.
“I didn’t know where he was. I thought I’d gotten everybody away from the referee,” Vom Steeg told reporters. “The first thing I did when I got out there was tell everybody to get away from the referee. I looked up and he just came out of nowhere.
“Whatever was inside of Peter snapped.”
Vom Steeg said he asked Christy if he was OK and the referee told him he was.
UCSB Director of Athletics Mark Massari declined to comment on the incident, citing that it was under investigation.
McGlynn, the Gauchos’ right fullback from Skerries, Ireland, was covering the goal line with center back Daniel Welsh when UC Davis scored the winning goal. The play started with a long throw-in from Ryan Gross into the penalty area. UCSB goalkeeper Austin Mansker came off his line and went for the ball in a crowd of UC Davis players. Mansker had the ball momentarily but lost control of it when colliding with two Aggies. The ball ended up at the foot of Sheldon and he hit a shot that was blocked by Welsh. The rebound went right back to him and he jumped up and kicked it past McGlynn for the game-winner.
Vom Steeg was incensed the Aggies were not called for fouling his goalkeeper.
Mansker claimed he was pulled down by the UC Davis players and that’s when he lost control of the ball.
“I had both hands on it, pretty sure,” he said. “A couple of kids were pulling me down. I guess the ref didn’t see it. It was a foul and that’s the way the (game) ended.”
“It’s disappointing,” UCSB senior midfielder Nic Ryan said. “You like to let us do the result and the ref took that away from us. He called a lot in the box the whole game. To let guys go up like that and hit our goalkeeper, it’s solely on him.”
In Vom Steeg’s opinion, the frustrating conclusion to the game, the end of the NCAA tourney streak, the team’s struggles to score goals and all the injuries this season contributed to McGlynn’s outrageous outburst.
“All that played into him losing it,” Vom Steeg said. “We’re all frustrated.”
McGlynn is a fifth-year senior. He was sidelined most of last season with an ankle injury and decided to come back and play this year.
“This is a culmination, in Peter’s case, five years of hard work, five years of being in the program and being invested in the program, and not wanting to finish his senior year losing to Davis and not be the first team to not make the NCAA Tournament,” Vom Steeg said.
Vom Steeg wanted to make it clear that the incident was not a reflection of his team.
“It wasn’t the team, it wasn’t five guys, it wasn’t whatever,” he said. “Everyone was walking away. I was the only one left there to engage the referee, which is all we wanted because I didn’t think he made a good call.
“No one is more upset at the fact we’ve been working through a really challenging season,” Vom Steeg added. “The message we’ve tried to teach to our players all year long is while we’re going through a really difficult stage, this is when you really find out who you are. This when you find out how you respond to things.
“It’s sad and frustrating I had one player who decided that wasn’t good enough.”
This is the second time in two years UCSB players have been involved in a post-game altercation with a referee. The Gauchos had three players suspended after they confronted the referee following a controversial loss against Cal in the NCAA Tournament.
Despite all the frustration it’s experienced this season, Vom Steeg said: “This is not a team that’s on the verge of being out of control.
“What we do know is there are lines that you don’t cross and if you cross them, whether you’re a head coach or player, the opportunity and privilege to be a Division 1 college athlete is gone.
“When I played, I was a very emotional player and cared about things,” he continued. “As we all know, there are certain lines you can never cross and (hitting a referee) is one of them. It’s unfortunate (McGlynn) has to end (his college career) that way. It’s sad and disappointing.”