MSoc: Early goal propels Gauchos to 2-0 victory

In the Friday-Sunday schedule the UCSB soccer team plays in the Big West, scoring an early goal in Sunday matches can be a huge advantage.

Achille Campion scored in the first minute, and that energized the Gauchos to a 2-0 win over UC Riverside on Sunday evening at Harder Stadium. It was the third straight shutout for the Gauchos, who improve to 2-0 after the first weekend of Big West play and 7-4-0 overall. UC Riverside is 0-2-0, 5-4-2.

Freshman Josh McNeely made five saves and Campion and Ismaila Jome provided the goals.

“The fact that we’re now finding ways to win is the real takeaway for this team,” said coach Tim Vom Steeg. “We stayed focused and composed at the back even after getting that early goal.”

Defender Daniel Welsh started the play that led to the early goal. He played a ball up the field to senior forward Goffin Boyoko, who settled the pass before lobbing a ball into the box to Campion. The French striker let the ball take one bounce before setting and blasting a first-touch shot past keeper Ashkan Khosravi, who was making his first appearance of the season.

Just 37 seconds in, it was by far the earliest goal scored by the Gauchos this season.

Spotted a goal so early, UCSB ratcheted up its defensive pressure throughout the first half, resulting in just three UC Riverside shots for the period, two of which were on frame.

That low-offense trend continued through the early stages of the second half, but one free kick changed all that. Taking the kick at around the halfway line, UCR defender Eric Gonzalez lofted a ball all the way to McNeely, who was able to get a glove on the shot despite the crowded box. McNeely did not get all of it however, and needed to make a pair of impresive close-range stops on Highlander shots before completely escaping the danger.

After that danger, UCSB had several counterattacking threats. One such opportunity led to the second goal. Trying to play a ball back to his keeper, a UCR defender instead deflected a ball off his own teammate and back towards UCSB’s forwards.

Jumping on the turnover, Jome advanced on the Highlanders goal. With Campion and Boyoko running down the wings and occupying the two remaining UCR defenders, Jome took advantage and curled a left-footed strike just inside the left post for his first career goal.

Still the team leader in assists with five, Jome is now third on the team with seven points. Campion reclaimed his place at the top of the UCSB scoresheet with his goal giving him his 10th point.

This week, the Gauchos will travel to face Big West rivals and nationally ranked Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine in their first road games in over a month.