SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara had to settle for a scoreless draw despite holding Blue-Green rival Cal Poly to just two shots in Saturday night's Fox Sports-televised contest at Harder Stadium.
The tie meant that the Gauchos (9-5-3, 5-0-3 Big West), who wrapped up a playoff spot with a golden goal win over UC Davis earlier this week, had to wait to clinch the North Division title. Cal Poly (3-9-3, 1-5-2) gained a point but remain in the division basement with just five points.
UCSB can still clinch the North as well as the Big West regular season championship with a win in either of the team's two remaining games in the regular season.
Saturday night drew 11,424 fans through the Harder Stadium turnstiles, the most of any men's soccer game this season and the ninth-highest regular season on-campus draw in NCAA history. UCSB-Cal Poly matchups now comprise 15 of the top 20 regular season on-campus crowds in the NCAA record book.
Both teams had Grade-A scoring opportunities in Saturday's match, but neither was able to push a goal across.
After Cal Poly's Justin Dhillon shot high in the 55th minute, it was all UCSB as the home team outshot the visitors 5-0 and was the only team who really put on any offensive pressure.
"We made a pretty concerted effort to keep the ball and build out of the back," said UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg. "The idea behind that was that eventually Cal Poly would slow down. It played out a little bit like that, but the goal we were looking for never came. We're disappointed that we didn't finish the game, but not necessarily with how the game played out."
After an early lull, UCSB created the game's first chance in the fifth minute when Ahinga Selemani was able to just beat Cal Poly keeper Eric Kam to a through ball in the box and get a toe on it. However, Kam's position enabled him to make the save, but the carom went to Nick Depuy on the left side of the box.
The All-American's rebound shot was aimed right at the goalie-less net, but Mustangs defender Kody Wasaka was waiting to clear it off the line.
UCSB goalie Titouan Le Roux made his sole save of the night a few moments later, swallowing up a George Grote scissor kick off a corner kick.
The Gauchos had their best opportunity later in the first half as DePuy outmuscled his defender to jump and get his head on a Josue España cross, but has often been the case with the striker this season, his shot went off the crossbar and out.
With Cal Poly tired in the back portion of the second half, UCSB was able to get a few looks. Selemani had the best chance in th 73rd, dribbling to his right at the edge of the 18 before driving a low-right footed shot that required a diving stop from Kam.
España also had a chance in the second frame, but his close-range shot from the left side went wide right.
It was all Gauchos once it reached extra time, as the ball was in their offensive half practically the entire 20 minutes. España and DePuy teamed up to create UCSB's best chance of overtime, with the former turnstiling his man down the left wing before sending in a cross to DePuy at the far post.
The pass went over the head of Kam, but Cal Poly defender Nick Carroll came to the rescue and headed it away from danger before DePuy could get to it.
DePuy had the lone shot of double overtime, hitting a 30-yard screamer that went over the bar.
Meanwhile, Cal Poly had a pair of goals called back in the game. A first half score was voided by a blatant hand ball, and then a would-be second half goal was nullified by a late offsides whistle.
UCSB is next in action next Wednesday afternoon, as they travel to Sacramento State for a 3:00 p.m. battle that has huge implications for the Big West North race. The Gauchos wrap up the regular season next Sunday with a 2:00 p.m. game against UC Davis at Harder Stadium.