Big celebration set for Harder Stadium on Friday night

The roller-coaster ride that’s been UCSB’s Big West Conference campaign reaches a climactic finish Friday, as the Gauchos host Cal Poly in the regular-season finale at Harder Stadium.

UCSB (12-5-1, 5-4, 15 points) is coming off a thrilling 3-2 double-overtime win at Cal State Northridge. Luis Silva scored the golden goal off a give-and-go with David Opoku with 19 seconds remaining.

So, how big is Friday night’s 7 o’clock game? Let’s count the ways.

1, With a victory, the Gauchos have chance to finish in second in the standings and get a home semifinal game in next week’s conference tournament. They are one point behind second-place UC Davis (16), and one ahead of fourth-place UC Riverside (14). Davis plays at Riverside on Saturday. UC Irvine is in first with 19 points.

2, UCSB-Cal Poly was named by College Soccer News as the best college soccer rivalry in the nation. Their matches have attracted some of the biggest on-campus stadium crowds in history. Cal Poly drew over 11,000 when the Gauchos played there two weeks ago — a 2-1 win by the Mustangs on a penalty kick in the 90th minute. UCSB is looking to sell out Harder Stadium for the rematch. If the game sells out (a crowd of 16,300 as determined by the Fire Marshal), Woodstocks Pizza will give every student in attendance a coupon for a free slice of pizza.

3, The match is on national TV (Fox Soccer Channel). UCSB is 6-2-3 all-time in TV games, including a win over defending national champion Akron earlier this season.

4, It’s Senior Night with UCSB honoring Luis Silva, Tim Pontius, James Kiffe, Waid Ibrahim and Gaby Okito.

5, The program is celebrating the fifth anniversary of the 2006 National Championship Team. The Gauchos knocked off Wake Forest in a shootout in the semifinals and beat No. 8 seeded UCLA 2-1 in the title match, played in freezing cold St. Louis. Several players from the team will be returning to Harder Stadium. Team members are Eric Avila, Nick “Belgium” Perera, Bryan Byrne, Bongomin Otii, Tyler Rosenlund, Eric Frimpong, Andrew Proctor, Chris Pontius, Brennan Tennelle, David Walker, Andy Iro, Jon Curry, Greg Curry, Tino Nunez, Jeff Murphy, Paul Kiersead, Alfonso Motagalvan, Kyle Kaveny, Tony Chinakwe, C.J. Cintas, Guillermo Jalomo, Evan Patterson and Kyle Reynish.

Here’s an idea: Maybe the students can carry a goal into the stadium Friday night… (See video of Isla Vista celebration after the Gauchos won the title).


*UC Irvine…6-3-1 19 points

*UC Davis…5-3-1, 16

*UCSB…5-4-0, 15

*UC Riverside…4-3-2, 14

Cal State Northridge…3-4-1, 11

Cal Poly…3-6-1, 10

Cal State Fullerton…1-5-3, 6

*Clinched conference tournament berths