MSoc: DePuy, Gauchos pull out huge Big West win in overtime

On UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg’s birthday, it could not have gone any better.

The UCSB Gauchos defeated UC Davis in overtime, 1-0, to force a tie for first place in the Big West North Division. Two other game results went Vom Steeg’s way as well.

Vom Steeg’s favorite baseball team, the San Francisco Giants, beat the Kansas City Royals 3-2 to win the World Series title, while rival Cal Poly conceded goals in the 78th and 84th to lose 2-1 against last place Sacramento State.

“It’s a great night,” said Vom Steeg. “The [San Francisco] Giants won, the Gauchos won, and Cal Poly lost, so all good.”

Now Cal Poly is three points behind the Gauchos and Aggies in the North Division.

Nick DePuy made sure he did his part to ensure Vom Steeg had a memorable night.

With 1:12 left in the first overtime, DePuy won the game for the Gauchos, scoring off Ismaila Jome’s cross.

“I saw an opening on the back post, and I was like, ‘If Ish [Jome] can roll the ball across the six [yard box], I am going to score this,’” said DePuy. “And that is what he did, it was a great ball by Ish.”

The play was set up by a beautiful switch ball from Drew Murphy to Ryo Fujii. Fujii then found Jome, who crossed the ball to DePuy at the back post to finish.

“He [Murphy] hit a great switch ball,” said Vom Steeg. “Ryo [Fujii], who is really a skillful player, brought that [ball] out of the air, and kept our momentum going forward. Then, our players kept running. Again, it was a great sequence.”

DePuy has had a flare for the dramatic this season, scoring his fourth game winner, and team-leading sixth goal of the year.

These include a goal from 35-yards out to beat UC Irvine with 0:36 left in regulation, and last Saturday’s game-tying goal vs. Cal Poly to even the game up, 2-2.

“We [the coaching staff] kept looking out on the field, going, ‘Someone’s going to have to get us a goal,’” said Vom Steeg. “…We were all in agreement that Nick [Depuy would] find a way tonight at some point to get us a goal.”

DePuy had a couple of chances to give the Gauchos the lead in regulation, but could not find his way past UC Davis goalkeeper Armando Quezada.

The Gauchos’ leading goal scorer had his close range shot blocked in the 82nd, and his header saved by Quezada five minutes later.

DePuy made sure that he got the job done in overtime.

“I just had a feeling that I was going to score,” said DePuy. “Because I was getting good looks. And it was just a fact of whether I could put it on frame.”

In the end, the Gauchos got the result they wanted. But, the Aggies made them work hard for it. UC Davis, who went into the match with the fifth lowest goals against average in the country (0.49), played stout defense throughout, putting many defenders behind the ball.

The Aggies were particularly good in the first half, limiting the Gauchos to only three shots, none of which really threatened Quezada.

But, as the game went along, the Gauchos picked up their tempo offensively, and were able to find more looks at goal.

“For all the possession, we only had three shots [in the first half]. So, we absolutely had to change and push and fight,” said Vom Steeg. “So, we pressed in more. I thought that we did a lot of good work in the first half, but the shots started to come. We got ten shots in the second half, we got six shots in overtime. In overtime, we decided to really throw everybody at them.”

It was in overtime when the Gauchos were finally able to break the Aggies down.

Vom Steeg added, “It was, I think, the one time all night that we actually caught them [UC Davis] without nine guys behind the ball.”

“Going into the overtime, I told my team, ‘We’re going to go for the win,’” said UC Davis Head Coach Dwayne Shaffer. “And I put two strikers up front, we tried to go for it. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen for us. They countered us on the one time [we weren’t back], and that was that.”

The Gauchos were strong defensively themselves. UCSB’s back line, though inexperienced playing together, stepped up big time in helping UCSB earn only its third shutout of the season, and first in the span of six games.

“I thought we stayed consistent in the back,” said Vom Steeg. “I thought we stepped up our pressure without giving up a lot in the back. Our center backs [Jeff Quezada and Duncan Backus] I thought played excellent tonight, keeping them in, so that we could continue to attack them [UC Davis].”

UCSB played its final regular season home match of the season, and now hits the road for two straight contests, beginning with Sunday’s matchup against Cal Poly.

The Gauchos have struggled away from home this season, particularly in Big West Conference play. UCSB is 1-4-1 overall on the road, and 0-2-1 in the Big West.

“We have to now try to figure out how to win on the road,” said Vom Steeg. ‘That will be something that we might as well figure out how to do sooner rather than later.”

That will be no easy task for the Gauchos, particularly on Sunday, who have not won at Cal Poly in five seasons.

Vom Steeg knows the importance of winning the Big West North Division, which would give UCSB home-field advantage in the Big West Conference Tournament.

“Finishing in first place means we get a couple home games [in the Big West Conference Tournament],” said Vom Steeg. “That’s our chance of winning the Big West Conference Tournament, is to get home games. I like us against anybody here at Harder Stadium.”

But, for the time being, Vom Steeg has had a birthday that he will never forget.