September 9, 2011

Sixth-Ranked Gauchos Blank No. 9 West Virginia

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Sophomore David Opoku scored his fourth goal in as many games on Friday night as he helped lead No. 6 UC Santa Barbara to a 2-0 win over visiting No. 9 West Virginia at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium.

A crowd of 3,136 showed up to cheer on the Gauchos as they improved to 4-0 on the season, marking their best start since 2009 when they also won their first four straight. The Mountaineers, meanwhile, fell to 2-2 overall.  

Opoku scored his third game-winner of the season in the 23rd minute. Junior Sam Garza crossed the ball on a Gaucho corner to the left post where Opoku was waiting just a few feet off of the goal line. The Accra, Ghana native headed the ball straight back into the Mountaineer goal to give UCSB a 1-0 advantage.

In the 37th minute, Opoku came inches within adding a second goal. Senior Luis Silva sent the ball to Nic Ryan, who crossed the ball to Opoku as he dashed towards the left post. He received the ball with his left foot and quickly transferred to his right before kicking it back towards the goal. West Virginia goalkeeper Pat Eavenson had come out of the goal, but defender Eric Schoenle was able to clear the ball and hold UCSB to a one-goal advantage at halftime.

The Gauchos eventually did get that second goal in the 65th minute from Silva. Junior Josue Madueno passed the ball from the right side of the field to sophomore Dom Sarle in the box. Sarle misjudged the pass and ran past the ball, but the cross had already drawn Eavenson out. Sarle quickly backtracked and tapped the ball to Silva, who shot the ball from 19 yards out into the open goal. The strike was his second of the season.

The UCSB defense, which was strengthened by the return of defensive midfielder Machael David to the lineup after a three game suspension, limited West Virginia to just four shots and none on frame. UCSB goalkeeper Andre Grandt did not have to make any saves on his way to his second consecutive shutout.

"We were very focused," head coach Tim Vom Steeg said. "I thought we had a good game plan going in, which is the starting point. We had a good week to prepare for them.

"I thought that each individual player did their responsibility and it starts and ends with a great work rate. We got a great work rate starting with our forwards all the way to the backline. If we continue to play like that, we are going to be a hard team to beat."

Eavenson had three saves for the Mountaineers, who allowed nine shots by the Gauchos.

UCSB stretches its win streak at Harder Stadium to 12 matches and its undefeated streak to 13-game

UCSB Athletics would like to extend a special thank you to Friday night's game sponsor, Santa Barbara Airport.

To ensure you don't miss a minute of the 2011 soccer season, purchase your season tickets now by calling (805) 893-UCSB, visiting the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus or by clicking here