Gauchos shaking their heads after tying Davidson

It was another night of frustration for the UCSB men’s soccer team.

The Gauchos managed to end their scoring drought and took their first lead in a match by putting in two goals against visiting Davidson. But it was the several missed scoring opportunities that had them shaking their heads after a 2-2 tie before 2,728 on Friday night at Harder Stadium.

UCSB (0-2-2) took 22 shots in the match and put 12 on goal, but it couldn’t deliver a game-winner.

Oh, but the Gauchos came so close.

Midfielder Danny Barrera had two shots bounce off the posts, one on the left and the other on the right, during the second 10-minute overtime period.

Later in the second OT, Michael Nonni’s point-blank shot was blocked by Davidson’s 6-5 goalkeeper Chip Sanders, who finished with 10 saves.

In the first overtime, the Gauchos set up a great scoring chance off a nifty corner-kick play. Sam Garza hit a short diagonal ball to James Kiffe and then raced across the penalty area unmarked for a return pass. Kiffe delivered the ball, but Garza hit his shot wide of the near post.

“I’m at a loss as to how many more things we have to do in front of the net to just kick something in and win the game,” said a frustrated UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg.

Barrera’s shots off the woodwork were especially tough to take.

“On either one of those posts, (the ball) can hit the post and go in. That’s three inches,” Vom Steeg said.

“I’m at a little bit of a loss because I thought we did a lot of really good things tonight and once again I have to go back in the locker room and regroup a little bit. For us, we’re treating it as a loss.”

The Gauchos followed a familiar early season pattern Friday, falling behind in the first half.

Davidson (2-0-2) scored in the 12th minute when UCSB was unable to clear a corner kick. Forward Mark Millard ripped the ball from the left flank into the box and it deflected off a Gaucho player and into the net for an own goal.

The Gauchos responded quickly and started putting together some dangerous combination plays and pressuring the Wildcats’ back line.

They tied the score in the 18th minute when a rejuvenated Luis Silva slipped a through pass to Garza, who beat Sanders with a diagonal shot toward the far post.

“I feel way better,” said Silva, who played without a brace on his surgically repaired knee for the first time this season. “I’m just working on my fitness. Hopefully, I will be able to play 90 minutes.”

The Gauchos kept coming at Davidson. Garza split two defenders and shot just wide of the mark in the 23rd minute. Barrera pulled the ball back and fired a shot on goal that Sanders knocked out of bounds in four minutes later.

They took the lead on the ensuing corner kick. Michael Tetteh received Garza’s corner kick, ripped a shot that was blocked and scored on the rebound for a 2-1 advantage.

Garza set up another good scoring chance in the 58th minute. He dribbled around a defender along the right byline and fed Silva for an open shot from 16 yard. Davidson’s defense was able to react quickly and blocked the attempt.

The Wildcats used their height advantage to square the match at 2-2 in the 70th minute. On a free kick into the box, the ball was headed by Alex Caskey and fell to Greg Mcnamara, who slammed his shot past Gaucho goalkeeper Sam Hayden.

“It’s been really frustrating,” Silva said of the slow start by the team. “Our defense has played well but we give up dumb goals on set pieces. We’ve got to work harder on that.”

Vom Steeg said having defender Chris Hunter out of the lineup with a quad muscle injury hampered his team against a taller Davidson on set pieces.

The Gauchos played without midfielder Michael Tetteh in the second half, and Vom Steeg noted it took the team out of sync offensively. Before he went out with an aggravated groin injury, Tetteh was giving Davidson fits on the left side of the midfield.

Nonni picked up the slack late in the second half and the overtime. In the 87th minute, he went at the goalkeeper but had his shot block. In the overtimes, he sent a couple of crossed balls to Garza running at the far post that missed connecting by inches.

“We just got to keep focus,” Silva said. “It’s tough, trust me. But we have to stay confident, play well and please the crowd. It will come, I promise.”


  1. The Gauchos followed a familiar early season pattern Friday, falling behind in the first half.