SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Akron's first visit to Meredith Field at Harder Stadium ended with the Zips claiming their first NCAA College Cup title last December. Their second visit was less joyful for the Zips as No. 15 UC Santa Barbara knocked off third-ranked Akron with a 3-2 overtime win on Wednesday night in front of the FOX Soccer Channel cameras.
The Gauchos' win broke meaningful streaks for both teams. UCSB snapped its two-game skid, the longest single season losing streak for the program since 2008. Akron, which entered Wednesday's game undefeated, saw its 18-game unbeaten streak snapped. The last time the Zips lost a game was at Cleveland State on Oct. 30, 2010. It was their only other loss in the last 60 games.
UCSB improves its record to 7-3-1 overall and Akron drops to 7-1-2. This marked the Gauchos' first win over a top-five ranked team since they knocked of third-ranked SMU in 2007.
Senior Luis Silva provided the Gauchos' golden goal, just 33 seconds into the first overtime period. The game-winning play began on the left side of the field where James Kiffe beat several defenders and then fired a cross, which found Michael Nonni on the left goal post. Nonni redirected the ball to Silva, who was running into the five-yard box. The senior tapped the ball with his right foot into the bottom left corner of the Akron goal to capture the win for UCSB.
"All I can say, is that I am so excited for our guys," head coach Tim Vom Steeg said. "Up until now, I thought we were playing well and doing a lot of good things. The guys really rallied around that loss against Irvine, got themselves together and came out tonight. We had positive energy from the bench and onto the field. We fell behind, but we stayed after it. It was truly a great Gaucho win tonight."
UCSB opened the game strong and had several great chances early on. Nonni had a trio of near misses and Silva and Machael David each had shots blocked by Akron's David Meves in the first 12 minutes.
Akron was able to breakthrough first and grabbed the lead when Wil Trapp slipped the ball to Darren Mattocks, who lifted the ball from the left flank over André Grandt and into the back right corner of the net in the 15th minute.
Despite out-shooting the Zips, 9-7, and holding a 5-2 advantage in corner kicks, the Gauchos remained scoreless heading into halftime.
It was Silva who tied the game for the first time. In the 64th minute, Dom Sarle crossed the ball from the right side of the field to Silva, who shot from 10-yards out into the lower right corner.
UCSB took the lead just over two minutes later. Kiffe crossed the ball into the box, where Josue Madueno headed it towards Sarle's feet. The sophomore, who had his back to the goal, kicked the ball over his left shoulder, turned and then sent it into the low left corner.
The Gaucho lead did not last for long as Akron once again tied the game up in the 69th minute. Eric Stevenson passed the ball to Michael Balogun, who one-touched it to Aodhan Quinn on the left side of the box. Quinn crossed the ball to Thomas Schmitt, who shot across the goal into the low corner.
Silva was able to win the game on the first shot of the overtime period. It marked his seventh goal of the season and his second game-winner.
Michael Nonni and Mattocks led all players with their five shots apiece. Silva, meanwhile, had a game-leading four shots on-goal.
In the goal, Grandt posted three saves for the Gauchos while Meves had four stops for the Zips. UCSB led the shot count, 16-11, and 7-5 in shots on-goal.
UCSB will head to UC Davis on Saturday in search of its first Big West Conference win. The Gauchos will play the Aggies at 3 p.m. To catch all of the action, tune into KZSB 1290 AM for Gerry Fall's live broadcast or click here to listen online.
The Gauchos would like to give a special thanks to Cox Communications for serving as Wednesday night's game sponsor.