Gauchos soak up second-round NCAA win, 3-2

Gaucho defender Josue Madueno move the ball upfield on his way to scoring UCSB's second goal. (Vince Agapito photo)

Not even a soggy field could slow down UCSB’s possession game Sunday night.

The Gauchos strung together some nifty scoring combinations and then held off a valiant comeback by Providence to post a 3-2 win in a second-round match of the NCAA soccer tournament before 1,311 at Harder Stadium.

The win — UCSB’s 11th  in 12 NCAA tournament games at home — advances the 15th-seeded Gauchos (16-6-1) to a third-round matchup against No. 2 Creighton in Omaha, Neb. next Sunday. Creighton blanked Northern Illinois 3-0 in the second round.

Providence finished the season at 11-8-1.

Despite playing on a field soaked by a day-long rain, the Gauchos were able to play their game, and Luis Silva, Josue Madueno and Dom Sarle scored three beautiful goals.

UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg credited the head groundskeeper and his crew for giving them “enough of a field” to play.

“Tim told us professionals do it at their level, why can’t we,” Silva said of playing good soccer on a wet pitch. “We got it done and we did it all right. After we passed the ball, we kept moving and that created space for everybody.”

Silva got the Gauchos going right away, drilling a left-footed rocket into the back of the net in the sixth minute. Sarle started the play by feeding Madueno on the right flank. Madueno beat the Providence defender to the end line and sent a diagonal pass to Silva in the middle of the box. Unmarked, Silva blasted a shot past Friars’ goalkeeper Jhojan Obando for a 1-0 lead.

Madueno was fabulous in the first half. But, it took some prodding from Vom Steeg to get the junior right fullback more involved.

“I had to yell at him a little bit because I felt he was really an important key to the game tonight,” Vom Steeg said. “He was running against their left side and I knew he would have a lot of success because they wouldn’t be able to stay with his pace and athleticism. I just had to yell at him because I wanted him to go more and he finally pushed up for first one and the second one was a great goal.”

Madueno combined with Michael Nonni and Sarle to give the Gauchos a 2-0 lead in the 41st minute.

He dribbled up the middle and passed to Nonni at top of the box. Nonni knocked a square pass to Sarle on the right and Sarle spotted Madueno continuing his run into the box and chipped the ball to him. He collected the ball, beat a defender and shot past Obando to the far post.

“Getting that goal before half was absolutely huge in this game,” said Vom Steeg.

Dom Sarle out-maneuvers a Providence defender just before scoring the eventual game-winning goal.

Madueno, who was dropped from midfield to the right fullback spot when Peter McGlynn was injured early in the season, has flourished coming out of the back.

“It gives me a lot of freedom to go up, the way we play,” he said. “I have a lot of freedom and space, and that’s what I like.”

Providence picked up its intensity in the second half and created a dangerous scoring chance in the 49th minute. Midfielder Marc Cintron ripped a shot from point-blank range at the near post, but Gaucho goalkeeper Andre Grandt was there to make the save.

“We were a little bit lackluster in the first half, but we were very good in the second half and we caused them some problems. But it was a little too late,” said Providence coach Chaka Daley.

The Friars got on the scoreboard in the 68th minute off a corner kick. Anthony Baumann  sent the ball to the far post, where freshman Brandon Adler headed it past Grandt to cut the Gaucho lead in half.

Adler later was involved in a nasty challenge with Gaucho Nic Ryan on a 50-50 ball. Ryan was shaken up on the play, but he walked off the field and later returned to the field.

The Gauchos responded with Sarle’s goal in the 74th minute. Madueno started the sequence with a pass to Silva, who fed a superb through ball to Sarle on the left side of the box. With a defender running with him, Sarle turned the corner and poked the ball past Obando with his left foot.

“I was able to beat him around the corner, faked a cut to the near post and was able to slip it by (the goalkeeper).” said Sarle.

“Dom gave us the toe poke. That’s what we’ve been waiting for,” said Vom Steeg.

On Silva’s performance: ‘I thought Silva was not only great, but at another level on the field tonight,” said Vom Steeg.

Providence made it 3-2 in the 83rd minute on a penalty kick by Baumann after Marcos Ugarte was fouled running onto a through pass in the box.

“The last 10 minutes of our games, if it’s not an adventure, we’ll make it one,” Vom Steeg said. “It’s been that way all season and I guess it’ll probably be that way against Creighton.”

Creighton’s strength is its defense.

“They are the No. 2 seed because of their defense,” Vom Steeg said. “It will be a test of a very, very good defensive team against a team that, I think, is the most explosive team in college soccer right now.”

Rain or shine.