MSoc: San Diego hounded by UCSB defense, Selemani

Ahinga Selemani - UCSB

UCSB’s Ahinga Selemani recorded a goal and an assist on Sunday. (Presidio Sports File Photo)


Sophomore forward Ahinga Selemani recorded a goal and an assist and the defense for No. 25 UC Santa Barbara suffocated the attack of visiting San Diego to the tune of just four shots on Sunday night as the Gauchos breezed to a 4-0 win in their final non-conference game of the regular season.

It was the third win in four games for UCSB, who improved to 5-3-1 on the campaign. USD dropped to 4-4-2 with the loss.

“I thought tonight was the most important game of the season so far, and our guys channeled their energy perfectly,” said UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg. “Coming off a disappointing result, this game could have gone either way. So I’m very excited that we’re now heading into conference play on a positive note.”

Freshman center back Sam Strong, junior forward Nick DePuy, and freshman forward Jonah Adomakoh joined Selemani on the scoresheet, with the former notching the game’s first goal just nine minutes in.

For DePuy, it was his 16th goal in 22 games since moving to forward midway through the 2014 season.

Making his first NCAA appearance, Adomakoh scored just three minutes after entering the game for what is believed to be UCSB’s fastest-ever debut goal.

With the barrage of goals against the Toreros, UCSB has now scored 11 goals in its past four games. On the other side of the coin, it was the third shutout of the season for the Gauchos.

Strong’s opener came off a flurry of activity following a UCSB free kick deep in USD territory. Sophomore midfielder Kevin Feucht took the free kick for the Gauchos, but his first two attempts at service into the box were blocked by Torero defenders.

However, Feucht eventually got the ball to the edge of the box, where it was flicked to Selemani. With his back to goal, Selemani was able to nudge a header to USD keeper Thomas Olsen’s right. with Olsen pushing it wide. In the box for the set piece, Strong grabbed the rebound and lofted a shot over Olsen and inside the far post.

After play was bottled up in the midfield for the remainder of the first half, UCSB turned up the offensive pressure in the second half and cemented the result with a pair of goals.

Freshman midfielder Geoffrey Acheampong was the catalyst on the Gauchos’ second goal, going box-to-box down the left wing on a counterattack in the 59th minute, cutting back inside and finding Selemani at the top of the penalty area.

Selemani calmly collected Acheampong’s pass, turned his defender, created space with his speed and then unleashed a wicked left-footed shot to the near post. Olsen got his hands on the ball with a diving attempt, but the ball had enough power on it to deflect off the keeper’s gloves and into the corner of the net.

DePuy sealed the deal for the Gauchos less than a minute later. After a USD turnover, junior midfielder Josue Espana found himself deep down the left flank with UCSB’s 6-4 forward in the box. Espana sent in a far-post cross for DePuy, and the Irvine native struck it with a partial scissor kick that got past Olsen.

Then Adomakoh capped off his debut in the best way possible, streaking to the keeper’s right on a breakaway and then beating him with a perfectly placed shot just inside the near post.

Freshman goalkeeper Justin Vom Steeg was relatively untested on the night, making just two saves. However, he was dominant in his penalty area, clearing and punching out a number of USD crossing attempts. He improved to 5-2-0 on the season.

The Gauchos will commence Big West action next week, as they travel to UC Irvine on Thursday night and Cal State Northridge on Saturday night.