Silva’s hat trick propels No. 8 UCSB past San Diego

UCSB  fans showed up in full force on Friday night and so did senior midfielder Luis Silva. The senior midfielder tallied a hat trick to lead the eighth-ranked Gauchos past visiting San Diego, 3-0, at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium.

A total of 13,772 fans witnessed Silva’s scoring frenzy. The crowd is the second biggest in UCSB history behind the 15,896 fans that attended last season’s match against UCLA (Sept. 24, 2010). Friday’s crowd ranks as the fifth-best in NCAA regular season history and the second best regular season attendance at an on-campus venue.

With the win, UCSB improves to 5-1-1 on the season and stretches its home undefeated streak to 15, dating back to the 2010 season. San Diego falls to 3-4-0 overall.

“The team played very well tonight,” head coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “It was a great crowd; I thought our team played off the energy from the crowd. We worked on what we had to do, and for the most part, it was a very good game plan. The players executed it and we got three great goals from Luis Silva.”

As has been the case the entire season, UCSB got on the scoreboard early as Silva posted his first goal in the 11th minute. Sophomore Dom Sarle slid the ball to Silva just as he was running into the box and then the midfielder jumped over a fallen defender before shooting the ball from 16 yards out to the low left corner of the Torero goal.

Sarle and Silva teamed up again just over 18 minutes later for an eerily similar strike. This time, Silva initiated the play by passing the ball to Sarle, who sent it back before Silva shot the ball to the same corner from 15 yards out.

In the 59th minute, sophomore David Opoku received the ball in the box and used a back heel flick to direct the ball to Silva, who was on the left side of San Diego’s goal. For the third time, Silva sent the ball to the far bottom corner to complete his hat trick.

Silva’s trio of goals marks the 25th hat trick in UCSB men’s soccer history. His is the first hat trick since Sam Garza notched three goals against Cal State Northridge on Oct. 23, 2010. This was Silva’s first three-goal game and the senior now leads the squad with five goals on the year.

For the game, UCSB out-shot the Toreros 14-7 and limited them to just two shots during the first half. Silva led the team with six total shots and Garza wasn’t far behind with five of his own.

Andre Grandt posted four saves on his way to his fourth shutout of the season. USD goalkeeper Adam Campbell made two stops.

UCSB will continue home non-conference action on Sunday, Sept. 25 when they host future Big West Conference member Sacramento State in a 5 p.m. match at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium.