Gaucho freshmen make it happen in win over Westmont

Achille Campion is mobbed by his UCSB teammates after scoring at the 3:06 mark of the game.

The newbies made their presence known in their UCSB soccer debut Saturday night.

Freshmen Drew Murphy and Nick DePuy helped set up a goal, first-year player Paul Ehmann scored off a Murphy assist and newcomer Andy Perez completed the scoring in a 3-0 exhibition win over Westmont before 3,219 at Harder Stadium.

It was the 13th straight victory for the Gauchos in the series.

UCSB struck quickly. At 3:06 into the match, Murphy sent a free kick into the box, where the 6-4 DePuy adroitly headed the ball across to senior Achille Campion, who nodded it past Warriors’ goalkeeper Josh Glover at the left post.

Goffin Boyoko of UCSB battles in the air with Westmont's Muhammad Mehai.

Goffin Boyoko of UCSB battles in the air with Westmont’s Muhammad Mehai.

?He?s an absolute beast in the air,? UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg said of DePuy. ?He?s as good as we?ve had at UCSB in a real long time.?

Campion, who’s fully recovered from a nagging ankle injury he suffered last season, said the incorporation of the new players into the program has gone smoothly.

?Honestly, it?s been awesome,? he said. ?We came into captain?s practice, and even during regular practice, with a real positive energy, welcoming everybody and trying to build positive chemistry, something that?s reliable; being honest with each other. That?s what we?ve been doing and you could see it on the field tonight.?

He added: ?The senior leadership, we tried to release the pressure on the (the freshmen) and ease them into the program, making it easier for them to be here and perform at their best.?

Murphy showed that he might be one of the best left-footed Gaucho midfielders in quite some time. The accuracy of his passes and set pieces was impressive.

?You have to go back to Danny Barrera to find a left foot like that on set pieces,? Vom Steeg said.

UCSB dominated possession and outshot Westmont 20-1. But the Warriors ?kept the game close thanks to the hard work and courageous play of its back line. Marcos Lopez (Santa Barbara High) and Muhammad Mehai (Carpinteria) led the strong defensive effort for the NAIA school.

?Defensively, I thought we were very well organized,? Westmont coach Dave Wolf said. ?What I liked about us defensively was I thought we were very brave. I thought we stepped (high) and we pressed a little bit. We don?t always do that against them because it takes a lot of courage to do it, because you know they can open you up when you step high. We stepped high, we defended in their half of the field.?

Fifi Baiden of UCSB tries to nudge a Westmont player off the ball during Saturday's exhibition match at Harder Stadium.

Fifi Baiden of UCSB tries to nudge a Westmont player off the ball during Saturday’s exhibition match at Harder Stadium.

The score remained 1-0 until the 84th minute when Ehmann ripped a shot from 20 yards that deflected off Glover’s hands, off the cross bar and into the net.

Four minutes later, Perez jumped on a loose ball in the 6-yard box and put it away to cap the scoring.

The 3-0 score was the same result Westmont experienced playing at UCLA last week.

Wolf said the matches against the Division 1 powerhouse programs can only help his team get better.

?You get exposed in ways that are very, very stark and you risk some humiliation,? he said of playing UCLA and UCSB. ?You put yourself in those situations and that?s hard, but the learning that?s available to you is significant. We have a week before we open up (regular season play) and we got lots of good information to work with.?

Rick McCarthy had Westmont’s only shot on goal, but it was saved by UCSB freshman goalkeeper Josh McNeely, who replaced returning starter Austin Mansker in the second half.

Saturday?s game was UCSB?s only tuneup before it opens at defending Big 10 champion Northwestern on Friday.

?They play a 4-5-1, it?s on turf and it?s a tough place to play,? Vom Steeg said of the 19th-ranked Wildcats. ?But we?re better built for playing a team like that than we?ve been in the last 3-4 years. We?re big, we have a lot of size, we?re able to cover a lot of ground. It?s a matter of having the young players mature quickly with the older guys that we have.

?It?s going to take a little while to make sure we all get on the same page, but in terns of all the pieces, I think everything is here to have a really good season.?

NOTE: Before the match, UCSB paid tribute to Jimmy McLeod. A native of Scotland, he played on the first men’s soccer team at the university and later officiated local college and high school matches. McLeod passed away in March at the age of 79.