Gauchos Battle Mexico U-17 National Team in Front of Sold-Out Crowd

Photo by Eric Isaacs
Photo by Eric Isaacs

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – In front of a sold out crowd of more than 5,000 at San Marcos High School Stadium, the UCSB men's soccer team battled the Mexican U-17 National Team on Friday, Mar. 3, falling 2-1 in a hard-fought contest. 

Mexico took a lead early in the first half to put UCSB on its heels, but the Gauchos held their ground and responded with an equalizer just before the halftime break.

UCSB junior left back Randy Mendoza created the goal with a long throw-in from the touch line, with newcomer Felix Ruiz tapping in the pass to knot the scoreline. 

Both teams had Grade-A scoring opportunities in the second half, with Noah Billingsley producing the best chance for UCSB. Freshman goalkeeper Titouan Le Roux also came up with a pair of huge saves in the half. 

Unfortunately, it was Mexico who was eventually able to break through for the game-winner, claiming a 2-1 win via a late second half goal. 

"It was a very well-played soccer game," said UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg. "I thought both teams executed very well, the stands were buzzing, and it was very competitive game despite it being just an exhibition." 

UCSB looks to use the Mexico U-17 clash as a building block as the team readies for the rest of its spring schedule. The Gauchos' next home game is set for Friday, Apr. 8 against cross-town rival Westmont. 

UCSB men's soccer's entire spring schedule can be found here. All home games are held at Harder Stadium and are free of charge to the public.