One goal is enough for Creighton to beat UCSB

It’s just not happening in front of the net for the UCSB men’s soccer team.

The combinations were working in Tuesday night’s home opener at Harder Stadium, but the Gauchos couldn’t crack Creighton’s defense and suffered a 1-0 loss before 2,567 fans.

The result leaves UCSB winless in its first three games (0-2-1), the first time that’s happened in coach Tim Vom Steeg’s 12 years as coach.

The worst thing about the start is the Gauchos are not scoring goals. They only have one in 297 minutes of soccer.

Creighton's Andrew Duran (15) scored the game's only goal on a header.

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(Vince Agapito photos)

“To start the season this way is really frustrating, because it negates a lot of the good things you do on the field,” Vom Steeg said. “You connect eight passes through the midfield, you get the ball out wide for the service and you don’t get the goal. It’s pretty disappointing.”

The Gauchos outshot Creighton 7-4, but the Blue Jays were able to put one of their chances away. It came in the 37th minute on a corner kick. Jose Gomez sent the ball into the box and defender Andrew Duran headed it over UCSB’s Michael Tetteh at the far post for the eventual game winner.

Creighton (3-0-0, all by shutout) played with discipline on defense to further frustrate the Gauchos.

“This is about the hardest place to come in and play in the country, so to get a result here is great,” said first-year Creighton coach Jamie Clark. “We fought for it. (UCSB) deserved more out of the game at the end, but you put yourself ahead and you compete, and our guys are competitive.

“Player for player, Santa Barbara might be a better team, but we compete to even the playing field.”

It took some great individual defensive efforts by the Blue Jays to keep the Gauchos off the scoreboard. In the 12th minute, Duran did a first baseman-like stretch to poke the ball away from Michael Nonni in the 6-yard box after a brilliant dribble drive and pass from Sam Garza along the right byline.

The Gauchos came at Creighton again in the 15th minute. This time Peter McGlynn burst up the right side and crossed the ball to Garza, whose one-touch shot rolled wide of the far post.

Garza beat two defenders on a run toward goal in the 23rd minute but his shot was saved by goalkeeper Brian Holt.

Creighton scored 15 minutes later and then stiffened on defense. Freshman left back Tyler Polak put on an impressive performance denying Gaucho attacks down the wing.

“That’s Creighton soccer,” Vom Steeg said. “They don’t give up a lot of chances. The key is you jump ahead.

“Getting ahead with the first goal was everything for us tonight,” he added. “We’ve not been able to finish. It’s just demoralizing as a team, because when you play well and you don’t get rewarded for a goal and you give up a goal, that’s a recipe for losing a soccer game.”

Vom Steeg inserted several players in the second half, hoping one of them could deliver a goal.

Nobody did.

“You ask, ‘Where do we go for here.’ Well, it’s not like we can go to the transfer market looking for another forward. We have what we have. Nothing changes other than the fact we need to be a team that finds the back of the net.”

The Gauchos will try it again on Friday against Davidson.