SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – No. 17 UC Santa Barbara defeated visiting Central Coast rival Cal Poly on Friday evening, 2-0, in front of a season-best crowd of 13,822 fans. FOX Soccer Channel cameras were on hand as Meredith Field at Harder Stadium welcomed its second biggest crowd, the biggest NCAA crowd this season and the fifth-best crowd in NCAA regular season history.
With the win, UCSB wraps up its regular season schedule with a 13-5-1 record and finishes the Big West schedule with a 6-4 record, marking its 11th consecutive season with a winning league record. The Mustangs, who concluded their season with the loss, fell to 6-9-3 overall and 3-6-1.
UCSB will have to wait until Saturday night to hear its Big West Tournament fate. The Gauchos have secured a spot in the four-team field, but their seed is dependent upon the outcome of tomorrow's UC Riverside vs. UC Davis match. The Gauchos will host a semifinal game on Wednesday, Nov. 9 if UC Davis ties or loses to the Highlanders.
The Gaucho offense was dominant in the first half of Friday's match, firing off eight shots, including five on-frame.
In the 33rd minute, Garza fed the ball to James Kiffe on the left side of the field and he sent the ball to the top left corner. The Gauchos were called for being offsides though and had to settle for a 0-0 tie heading into the halftime.
UCSB did not waste any time at the beginning of the second half. In the 46th minute, Sam Garza got the ball in midfield and split two defenders before taking a shot from 13-yards out that blasted past Mustang goalkeeper Patrick McLain and into the top left corner of the goal.
Never one to sit out on the scoring action, current Big West Player of the Week, Luis Silva brought his scoring streak to five games with a strike in the 78th minute. Dom Sarle started the play by slipping the ball to Silva at the top of the box. The senior took his time and dribbled past McLain, who had come off his line, and sent a rolling shot into the open goal.
UCSB out-shot the Mustangs, 19-11, and had a 10-1 advantage in shots on-goal. Silva led the way with five shots in the game.
Junior goalkeeper Andre Grandt needed to make just one save to record his seventh shutout of the year. McLain was outstanding in goal for the Mustangs tallying a season-high eight saves.
The victory stretched UCSB's home undefeated streak against Cal Poly to 14 games. The Gauchos have posted a 12-0-2 record against the Mustangs at Harder dating back to 1998. This was the first game between the teams that has been decided by more than one goal dating back to the 2007 season - a span of 10 games.
Friday marked a special night as two outstanding groups were honored. Prior to the match, UCSB celebrated its five seniors: Luis Silva, James Kiffe, Waid Ibrahim, Gaby Okito and Tim Pontius. At halftime, the Gauchos' 2006 NCAA College Cup Championship team was honored with Golden Scarves in celebration of the five-year anniversary of their national title.