McKenna creates in UCSB victory over Westmont

 

Reed McKenna was declared “Man Of The Match” after an impressive performance this Saturday night as the UCSB men’s soccer team hosted its crosstown rival Westmont in a 2-0 defeat at Harder Stadium.

This was the 51st meeting between the two schools as they fought for the annual Bryant & Sons Cup in a season-opening exhibition for both sides.

UCSB got off to a hot start when Ismaila Jome found McKenna up front with a beautifully placed through ball in the 10th minute of the game, which gave the Gauchos an early lead.

“Ismaila got the ball in the middle of the field,” McKenna said. “He took a couple of touches and drew some defenders in. He slipped me in between the two defenders and I was able to get a shot of which the keeper saved. Fortunately it bounced right back to me and I was able to pop up and finish it in the open net.”

Westmont's Tanner Wolf, left, and UCSB's Drew Murphy challenge for a ball in the midfield.

Westmont’s Daniel Johnsen, left, and UCSB’s Drew Murphy challenge for a ball in the midfield.

Not long after, sophomore midfielder Drew Murphy knocked a header into the top right area of the net assisted by a high corner kick from McKenna in the 25th minute. This marked the second and last goal of the night for both teams.

“I think tonight was about getting the anxiousness and the nerves out, and getting rid of the rust,” said Murphy.

UCSB maintained possession most of the first half and created a lot of chances throughout the entire game.

“The first game is the hardest game,” said Murphy. “At times, we looked very, very good going forward and everything. Now we just have to figure out how to put the ball in the back of the net. We had plenty of opportunities tonight.”

The Gauchos’ head coach Tim Vom Steeg made substitutions consistently throughout the game. In the 35th minute, Von Steeg shockingly replaced Reed McKenna for Marshall Cazares while also putting in Denis Kalamar to work up front.

“I am very excited about this group, it’s just that, there’s no other way to say it, we are really, really young,” Vom Steeg admitted. “I mean, this is a young team.”

Although the Gauchos were only able to connect on two of their opportunities, they played exceptionally on the defensive end of the field, not allowing the Warriors to put any shots on target.

“I was honestly real disappointed with the first half. Just the hesitancy of the team.” said Westmont coach Dave Wolf. “I thought we just didn’t show much ability to play the ball laterally, which I think we can do quite well.”

In the second half, Vom Steeg continued to try out different combinations of players, making a total of seven substitutions.

The Warriors picked up their quality of play in the second and was able to gain much more ball control. Keeper Josh Glover kept the Gauchos from adding to the score with two point blank saves on UCSB’s Armand Bagramyan.

“I thought in the second half we got a little bit more of the ball, we showed a little bit more composure and I was real pleased with the response,” Wolf said. “So it’s a game of two halves and I think I can walk away with some things to be hopeful about after the second half.”

When asked about the team this year, Murphy explained: “We have a core group of sophomores that started last year as freshmen, and we have an exciting group of freshman who add a little flare to the game. So it’s going to be young but it’s going to be good.”

Now UCSB, fresh off of its victory, faces Charleston S.C. this Friday as they hope to carry on their momentum.

“We’re going to have to show up on Friday and figure it out from there a little bit on the fly. But as you can see from the last 20 minutes we have plenty of players to show up on this field and run at you,” Vom Steeg said.

Westmont goes on to play their first regular season game on Friday as they host Pomona-Pitzer at Thorrington Field.

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