Gauchos vault into first place after fourth straight

NORTHRIDGE – The No. 13 UCSB men’s soccer team moved into first place in the Big West behind three goals within a 20-minute span of the second half – including two within a 10-second span – as the Gauchos rang up their fourth straight victory, 3-1, over Cal State Northridge on Wednesday afternoon at Matador Field.

The win improved the Gauchos’ Big West record to 5-1-1 and moved them into first place in the conference, one point ahead of UC Davis. UCSB is 10-4-2 overall while Cal State Northridge falls to 6-6-4, 2-2-3 in the Big West. UC Davis doesn’t play until Sunday while the Gauchos can improve their Big West mark on Saturday at home vs. UC Irvine.

The first 500 fans to that game will receive a free seat cushion and all kids 13 and under will be admitted free.

Senior Chris Pontius turned a 1-0 deficit into a tie game at 66:00 when freshman Danny Barrera sent a cross in front of the goal and Pontius headed it in. It was Pontius’ 13th goal of the season and his fifth straight game with a goal, which is a personal best.

The goal gives Pontius 28 in his career, which ties him with current assistant coach Neil Jones for fifth all-time in UCSB history.

Sophomore Bongomin Otii scored his first goal of the season – his first, in fact, since Oct. 14, 2006 – just 10 seconds after Pontius tickled the twine when he got the ball off the kickoff and went on a breakaway, beating Cal State Northridge goalie Kevin Guppy for a 2-1 lead.

But UCSB was not quite done. Following a red card to CSUN defender Bo Miller, UCSB’s Jon Curry bent a free kick past a wall of defenders on the right-hand side of the box and into the net for a 3-1 advantage at 86:01. It was Curry’s first goal of the season.

The Matadors got on the board first in the 32nd minute when Camilo Rojas headed in a goal off a throw in, to the right hand side of the net.The three goals were as many as UCSB had scored in its previous two games – both wins – combined. It will certainly aid the Gauchos’ current 2.07 goals per game average, which leads the Big West. The victory was the Gauchos’ fourth in a row, which is a season-high.

That was all goalie Trond Helge Takset would allow, the freshman making his first start between the pipes since Sept. 21 which was a 6-2 loss to Wake Forest. Takset had two saves as the Gauchos allowed just three shots on goal out of the Matadors’ total 15 shots.

UCSB totaled 16 shots, but had nine on goal.

The Gauchos’ next game is Saturday, Nov. 1 vs. UC Irvine, a team the Gauchos defeated earlier this season, 2-1. The first 500 fans to that game will receive a free seat cushion and all kids 13 an under will be admitted free.

UCSB will attempt to set THE record vs. Cal Poly on Nov. 5. The UCSB Atheletics Ticket Office will hold special extended hours next week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for faculty and staff to come by and receive their free tickets. All students are encouraged to stop by and reserve their spot. Groups of five or more people can get special tickets for just $3 per person.