MSoc: Gauchos prevail on Feucht’s two penalty kicks

Kevin Feucht converted two penalty in a Big West win over UC Davis. (Presidio Sports file photo).

Kevin Feucht converted on two penalty kicks in UCSB’s Big West win over UC Davis. (Presidio Sports file photo).

Sophomore midfielder Kevin Feucht calmly converted two penalty kicks in Wednesday’s contest against UC Davis at Harder Stadium, leading No. 21 UCSB to a 2-1 win over the Aggies and snapping a two-match losing streak.

It was the fourth score in as many games for Feucht, who is now second on the team in goals for the season.

It was a bit of a bittersweet victory for Feucht and the Gauchos, as the German midfielder will have to sit out Saturday’s showdown with Cal Poly after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season in the 86th minute.

Freshman goalkeeper Justin Vom Steeg was aggressive and effective in the contest, making five saves on the night, including four in the second half. He received a little help from sophomore left back Randy Mendoza, who cleared a header off the goal line after Vom Steeg had come out to attempt a punch on a cross.

UCSB improved to 10-5-1 on the season with a 5-2 mark in Big West play. The Gauchos have now won 10 or more games in 15 consecutive seasons, extending a program record. UC Davis dropped to 7-7-2, 3-2-2.

“Even though we were down a couple key players, we still did enough to win the game tonight,” said UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg. “Now we have two days to reset and get ready for another battle against Cal Poly.”

Understanding that their opponents had just completed an eight hour bus ride, the Gauchos opened the game with the advantage in energy and movement, as Seo-In Kim and the rest of the UCSB midfield dominated the middle of the park and created a number of scoring chances.

Sophomore forward Ahinga Selemani had a great chance for UCSB early, receiving a nice through ball from teammate Nick DePuy in the box before uncorking a shot that was saved by UC Davis keeper Armando Quezada in the third minute.

Sprinting laterally at the top of the box in the 13th minute, Kim had a good look at goal himself, but his 20-yard shot went high over the bar. However, Kim would create UCSB’s first goal just minutes later.

Moving down the right wing, Kim attempted to send in a cross towards DePuy, but his pass was blocked by UCD defender Greg Salazar. The ball came right back to Kim, who settled and tried to whip in another cross. This time, the ball glanced off Salazar’s outstretched arm and the referee whistled for a penalty.

On the ensuing PK, Feucht took a big wind up but then ended up taking a slow, accurate shot just inside the right post that froze Quezada, who remained in the middle of the goal line.

For the rest of the first half and the beginning of the second, the run of play was bottled up in the middle of the park, with UCSB playing cautiously and Davis creating few scoring chances.

However, the normally cautious Aggies were forced to move players up field late in the game, and with that they were able to threaten Vom Steeg and the Gaucho back line.

That pressure resulted in an equalizer in the 74th minute, as junior defender Steven Guzman was able to clean up after the Aggies tossed a long throw from deep in their offensive territory that created a mad scramble inside the UCSB penalty area.

UCSB answered right back however, earning a penalty just a minute later. This time, DePuy was dragged down in the box by UCD’s leading goal-scorer Lucas Mohageg on a questionable challenge.

Feucht once again stepped up for UCSB, and this time went to the keeper’s right as Quezada guessed the wrong way.

On the restart. the Aggies nearly scored on a long-range shot, as Connor Willis-Hong’s 30-yard, left-footed drive rang off the left post.

The Gauchos put the clamps down after that chance, surrendering no good looks to the Aggies over the final 12 minutes of the game.

A point ahead of Cal Poly in the Big West North standings, the Gauchos and Mustangs will battle for division supremacy on Saturday night in a Prime Ticket-televised showdown at Harder Stadium.