Gauchos win finale, look forward to Mustangs

Luis Silva splits two Riverside defenders and kicks in the first of two goal on the night. (Vince Agapito Photos)

UCSB's Luis Silva scored both goals in UCSB's 2-0 victory at Harder Stadium.

Luis Silva was the only player that was able to find the net in UCSB’s final Big West conference game against UC Riverside on Saturday night, getting the job done twice in a 2-0 victory.

The Gauchos finish their conference season in second place with a record of 7-2-1 and an overall record of 11-4-3. Riverside ended their season with a conference record of 2-7-0 while UC Irvine won the regular-season conference title after a 3-1 victory over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday night.

As a result, UCSB will face Cal Poly on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Harder Stadium for the first match of the Big West tournament. This will be the Gauchos’ third game with their conference rivals this season with each team having one win and one loss against each other.

The Gauchos will be looking to beat the Mustangs after losing 2-1 in overtime during their last fixture.

Midfielder Danny Barrera expressed his excitement to play rival Cal Poly following the game.

“They’re a good team this year, so it’s really going to be a good game,” Barrera said.

Following the game head coach Tim Vom Steeg expressed his frustration about finishing second in the conference and commented on what the team needs to do in the postseason.

“Now it comes down to two games, and we get the next one at home. It’s going to be a tough game, now we’re looking at Cal Poly. It’s part three,” Vom Steeg said.

FINAL BIG WEST STANDINGS

After a scoreless first half, The Gauchos came onto the field for the second half with a scoring prowess. UCSB had three shots in the first five minutes of the half. In the 49th minute Sam Garza beat his defender on the right side and hit a left-footed shot that went just wide of the goal.

In the 57th minute, Silva was finally able to end the deadlock with a right-footed strike in the bottom right corner. Silva received the ball at the top of the box from David Opoku and he did not hesitate to shoot.

UCSB's Josue Madueno fights to control the ball against Riverside's Normando Mariscal.

When asked about the goal Silva stated, “I just put it down, low, and on frame and it went in.”

Ten minutes later Silva was able to grab his second goal of the match. Barrera played a ball to Silva in the box and Silva placed a curved shot past a diving UCR keeper Nick Goldreich with his left-foot.

The half continued with UCSB dominating in possession and opportunities. The UCSB defense was solid throughout the game. UCR’s frustration became apparent after Cesar Diaz hit a desperate shot from 35 yards out that went wide left.

The game ended with UCSB almost grabbing a third goal on a set play where Barrera crossed in a ball and Evan McNiel’s header went just inches over the crossbar in the 88th minute.

Sam Hayden and the UCSB backline were impenetrable all game. Hayden was able to record his 24th career shutout as a Gaucho, making him tied for third with Kyle Reynish within the UCSB record books.

The Gauchos ended the game with 15 shots, 5 of which that were on frame.

The game began celebrating UCSB’s seniors in their final regular season match at home. The team’s three seniors (Joe Eubanks, Hayden and Michael Boxall) were each introduced and a catalogue of their accomplishments at UCSB was announced.

The first half began with UCSB in attacking form. Two great opportunities were created within the first ten minutes of the match. In the 6th minute, Silva found space in the box and put his shot just inches over the crossbar. One minute later, a Eubanks header hit the post with Goldreich snatching up the ball.

The half continued with UCSB creating more opportunities with crosses coming in from the wings and possessing the ball in the midfield. In the 20th minute Silva found himself in front of goal again and hit his shot wide.

The Highlanders’ tested Sam Hayden in the 21st minute with a free kick from 40 yards out. Sam was up to the challenge and comfortably controlled the ball after a high cross from Alex Racca of UCR.

The Gauchos almost found the net in the 31st minute after the Goldreich punched out a crossed ball to James Kiffe, the UCSB left-back. Kiffe collected the ball and shot it, the shot was deflected by Opoku with the deflection going straight into the Goldreich’s hands.

The first half came to an end with a score of 0-0. UCSB dominated in both possession and opportunities. The half was very physical with UCSB receiving three yellow cards and UCR receiving one.

Luis Silva heads the ball up field against UC Riverside.

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