Boateng’s goal gives UCSB a tie with UCLA



Ema Boateng was ready to play against UCLA at the crack of dawn.

The UCSB freshman from Cate School said he gets so excited to play in big soccer games that he wakes up really early in the morning on game day and the day before.

“I don?t really get nervous, I get more excited,” Boateng said about the big games. “Thursday and this morning I woke up super early; I wanted to play already. I always get excited and want to get on the field. I just want to get out there and play, especially in big games.”

Friday night’s clash against ninth-ranked UCLA at Harder Stadium was his first big one as a Gaucho. And the youngster rose to the occasion.


Down 1-0, Boateng scored after a spectacular 60-yard run in the second half, helping No. 3-ranked UCSB gain a 1-1 tie with the Bruins before 7,542 and a national television audience.

The tie leaves UCSB’s record at 5-0-2 and UCLA at 4-1-2.

Boateng got the ball on the right side near the center line, deked a defender and bolted on a diagonal run. UCLA’s 6-3 Joe Sofia was the last Bruin back, but the speedy Boateng dribbled past him and beat goalkeeper Earl Edwards to knot the score at 1-1 in the 67th minute.

Boateng said he had three options when he received the ball: play off point forward Charlie Miller, feed Dion Acoff down the line or take it himself.

He picked option No. 3.

“I just picked it up in the midfield, turned around and saw two guys in front me, and could see behind them that there was a big gap between them and the goalie,” Boateng said. “I pushed it by (them) and just went for it.”

UCLA coach Jorge Salcedo was impressed.

“Ema Boateng is probably one of the fastest players in college soccer, so when he has the kind of pace it opens up space for other players on the field as well,” Salcedo said.

As is their custom, UCSB students celebrated the unassisted goal by showering the field with tortillas.

It was the second goal for the 2012 Gatorade National High School Player of the Year, and both have been highlight reel plays. On his first goal, he hit a left-footed bomb off the run at San Diego.

Boateng’s blazing speed and the overall team speed of the Gauchos gave UCLA trouble throughout the second half and early in the overtime. The Gauchos, however, couldn’t come up with that last pass in the attacking third to challenge Edwards.

“The one thing I thought we were missing tonight was we couldn?t get the final pass,” UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg said.

Salcedo credited his defense.

“(UCSB is) very athletic and has very fast and quick players, and I thought our guys did a good job dealing with them,” said Salcedo.

The Gauchos were missing two key starters: forward and leading goal scorer Achille Campion and 6-foot-5 enter back Peter Schmetz were out because of injuries.

Schmetz’s absence was especially felt on UCLA’s goal. The Bruins scored in the 11th minute when Fernando Monge flicked a long throw from Sofia past Gaucho goalkeeper Austin Mansker.

“My big concern was without Schmetz we lose that head ball,” Vom Steeg said. “That head ball was the biggest problem all night.”

To help fix the problem of defending on UCLA’s set pieces, Vom Steeg brought in 6-3 forward Charlie Miller to clear long balls dumped into the box.

“I needed his head balls,” Vom Steeg said of Miller. “Charlie was critical for us because I needed someone on those throw-ins.”

The Gauchos also got good play off the bench from Josue Madueno and from starting defensive midfielder Fifi Baiden. They helped the team do a better job of possessing the ball in the second half. In the first half, the Gauchos had trouble holding onto the ball.

“The substitions that we made, in particular, Josue, came in the midfield and started to change the game a little bit,” Vom Steeg said. Fifi, in my opinion, he was the best player tonight. He was unbelievable in moving the ball and he settled in.”

UCSB got the first good scoring chance of the game off a Boateng corner kick. The in-swinging ball found the head of Dom Sarle and he snapped a shot on goal. Defender Matt Wiet, however, denied Sarle by clearing the ball off the goal line.

The Bruins then picked up their play and took the lead on Monge’s second goal of the season.

UCLA almost scored again in the 22nd minute when Ryan Hollingshead broke in on goal. But Mansker came up huge Gauchos, charging off his line and forcing Hollingshead’s shot wide.

The Bruins almost won the game in the seventh minute of the first 10-minute overtime. Hollingshead sent forward Reed Williams through for a 1-on-1 with Mansker but the junior forward hit his shot inches wide.

“It was an open game, sometimes a game that?s too open for my liking,” Salcedo said. “It probably was an entertaining match for the fans and those watching on TV. It was a good showcase for college soccer.”

UCLA was the first ranked opponent the Gauchos played in its first seven games, and Vom Steeg said his team is better after playing the game.

“I’m not worried about this team not having played a team like this before,” he said. “We kind of benefitted by not playing UCLA in our second game, having seven new starters on the field. As much as I was disappointed that we lost a couple of bigger games (on the schedule), it?s kind of worked out favorably.”

The Gauchos are back in action Sunday at home against Harvard.