Gauchos battle to bizarre tie

Two odd circumstances directly related to the No. 13 UC Santa Barbara men’s soccer team ending up in Wednesday’s 2-2 tie with Cal State Northridge.

First, the Gauchos had a goal by David Walker taken away midway through the first half because UCSB was whistled for being offsides. Then, in the 62nd minute, Northridge put away the equalizer when Gaucho goalie Kristopher Minton was knocked to the ground and laying there injured with an empty net behind him.

CSUN’s Milan Radovic put the ball in, as Minton remained on the ground for several minutes. He eventually was checked out by the training staff and stayed in the game. Neither team was able to score a winner despite playing two overtimes.

“Two goals should have been enough for us to win this game,” said coach Tim Vom Steeg, who expressed disappointment in the play of UCSB’s defense.

UCSB is now 6-3-2 and 1-0-1 in the Big West while CSUN is 5-4-2 and 1-0-1.

The Gauchos got on the board first when Walker took a beautiful pass from Nick Perera and beat CSUN goalkeeper Kevin Guppy for a 1-0 lead at 8:42. Senior Chris Pontius fed Perera the ball at the top of the box, who in turn sent a perfect ball to Walker who put home his second goal of the season.

But Perera was not done there. He set up Pontius’ team-high ninth goal of the season when he crossed a ball through the box, getting Guppy off guard and Pontius easily found the back of the net for a 2-1 Gaucho lead at 27:26.

Northridge tied the score, 1-1, at 17:52 when the Gauchos were caught with too many men on the offensive. Sunghyun Kim deked the lone UCSB defender and fed the ball to Ben Cox, who was one-on-one with Minton and knocked the ball past him on the Matadors’ first shot.

UCSB controlled most of the first-half action, but managed just seven shots in the first 45 minutes, although might have had a two-goal lead had the offsides not been called on Walker¹s apparent goal at 32:17.

Taking advantage of the open net, Radovic tied things up at 2-2 at 61:02 and despite the Gauchos taking three shots in the second overtime period, were not able to finish off a victory.

Their best chance to score a sudden victory came at 6:11 in the second overtime when freshman Luis Silva tried to dump the ball to a streaking Chris Pontius coming in on the left side, but Pontius, all alone, slipped on the grass  which had become wet as the game went deeper into the night  thwarting a golden opportunity.

Freshman Danny Barrera, who had two assists in last week’s pair of games, was given a yellow card with 00:03 remaining in regulation when he jumped close to the ball on a free kick. Once things were re-set and Radovic went to take the free kick, Barrera crossed the 10-yard barrier again for what turned out to be a red card. Assistant coach Neil Jones was also given a red card on the play.

That means neither will be eligible to play on Saturday as UCSB continues Big West play against UC Davis at 7 p.m. The game will feature numerous give-aways including Kids to College Night anyone under 13 receives free admission; the first 500 fans will receive UCSB travel mugs while the first 1,000 students and 1,000 fans will also receive a Gaucho Stick.