Gauchos had payback on their minds against UCLA

Harder Stadium was bubbling over with emotion.

Still bitter from a 2-1 loss to UCLA in the third round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, the UCSB men’s soccer team seemed to have one thing on its mind Friday night when the Bruins came to Harder Stadium: payback.

The Gauchos got some revenge before a NCAA record crowd of 15,896, beating UCLA 2-0 on goals by David Opoku and Danny Barrera.

“We owed it to them,” said Barrera, a junior midfielder, who experienced the bitter defeat last year at UCLA. “They were the older team, the more experienced team (last year), so it felt really good (to beat them this year).”

UCSB was a miserable 3-30-3 against UCLA coming into Friday’s game, but that didn’t bother the Gauchos. They played hard for the full 90 minutes.
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UCSB broke the scoreless tie in the 75th minute on a corner kick that Tim Pontius headed into Opoku’s lap and he easily notched it home.

Barrera scored the clinching goal in the closing minutes.

Until Barrera’s goal, UCSB’s lead was still in jeopardy, and the rowdy crowd was doing everything it could to keep the Gauchos motivated. The Harder Stadium fans were loud and well armed with their traditional weapon: the flying tortillas, which rained down on to the field throughout the game.

The referee stopped the game at one point and ordered the public address announcer to inform the crowd not to throw anything on the field.

The tortillas stopped flying for about a minute.

“The atmosphere was unbelievable. The game was intense, everyone rode every play,” head coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “It’s great for the community, the students who are back in town, and it’s great to start our year off with the students with that kind of performance. It was a huge win.”

Barrera was awestruck by the size of the crowd at the stadium. He recalled a photo of the 2004 NCAA quarterfinal game against Virginia Commonwealth that sent UCSB to its first College Cup. There were 11,214 in the stadium that night.

“When I was walking out at halftime I was looking around and I was like, ‘Wow.’” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Neither has anyone else in college soccer.


  1. Why doesn’t the video work?

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