SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara couldn't have asked for a better start to the season in their exhibition matchup against the Westmont Warriors, dominating the play en route to a 3-0 win over their crosstown rivals.
3,219 fans packed Harder Stadium on Saturday night to support the Gauchos, who quickly gave the faithful something to cheer for. In just the fourth minute, a trio of freshmen linked up to create a goal finished by senior Achille Campion.
Dribbling towards the left touchline, forward Ismaila Jome drew a foul from his Westmont marker about 30 yards out from goal. Midfielder Drew Murphy stepped up to take the free kick, then whipped a cross into the box, where freshman Nick Depuy – a midfield/defense hybrid who operated at right back in this game – got a head on the ball and sent it back towards the near post, where Campion was waiting to finish the job.
It was the first shot of the game of the year for the Gauchos. With the goal, the France native has now scored in eight of his nine appearances in a blue shirt.
Though clear scoring chances were few and far between for both teams in the first half, UCSB had the vast majority of possession, holding the Warriors without a shot for the entire first 45 minute period.
Campion had the best remaining chance of the half. In the 25th minute, senior midfielder Goffin Boyoko played a through ball from the right side across the box to his French countryman. The ball got past the aptly named Westmont keeper Josh Glover, but Campion's foot-first slide came up but inches short of connecting for a second goal.
The start of the second half saw the Gauchos introduce a trio of freshmen to the lineup in Armand Bagramyan, Josh McNeely, and Paul Ehmann, who was just cleared by the NCAA earlier this week. McNeely replaced junior keeper Austin Mansker, who saw little action in the UCSB end.
Westmont was able to get its first and only shot of the game in the 56th minute, when Rick McCarthy sent a header right into the gloves of McNeely.
In the last ten minutes of the match, the Gauchos capitalized on their dominant possession play with a number of chances. Bagramyan got the action going with a howling shot in the 82nd minute that was tipped to the crossbar by new Warriors keeper Andrew Singer.
Minutes later, the Gauchos got a more fortuitous bounce off the bar. In the 84th, German national Paul Ehmann coralled a ball from Murphy just outside the 18-yard box and fired on goal. Singer once again got his fingertips on the ball to push it off the crossbar, but this time the ball had enough velocity to ricochet off the woodwork and off the keeper's back into the net for a 2-0 UCSB lead, giving Ehmann his debut UCSB goal and Murphy a two-assist day.
The Gauchos capped the scoring shortly after in the 88th minute. Substitute Adam Carn-Saferstein maneuvered down the right touch line then sent a cross to the far post. Glover was not able to clear the ball, and a trio of Gauchos were waiting when the ball came down. Freshman midfielder Andy Perez was the one who got the touch on and sent it into the net to push the lead to 3-0.
Campion led the team on the night with four shots. Boyoko and DePuy, who operated on the right side for the Gauchos, had three shots apiece.
"I loved the team's energy tonight," said UCSB head coach Vom Steeg. "Especially the freshmen, I loved the way they worked. It shows how we're going to incorporate the younger group of players in our program."
The Gauchos will travel outside of California for the only time in the regular season this week when they head to Illinois to take on Northwestern and the University of Illinois, Chicago. Their regular-season opener against Northwestern will kick off at 5 p.m. Pacific time on Friday afternoon. UCSBgauchos.com will have a live audio broadcast of the contest, accessible from the men's soccer schedule or the listen live page.
UCSB plays their home opener on Sep. 6 against Gonzaga. Season seats are still available for the 2013 season, with plans starting as low as $3. To secure your seats today, call 805.893.UCSB or buy online here.