Gauchos Back on Track with 1-0 Win over Butler

Axel Mendez (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Axel Mendez (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Rodney Michael scored in the 6th minute of the match to lead the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team back to the win column with a 1-0 victory over Butler on Saturday night at Harder Stadium.

With the win, UCSB improves to 3-2-0 and remains undefeated at home while Butler, who was ranked No. 9 to start the season and received votes in the latest United Soccer Coaches Poll, falls to 1-3-1.

After a challenging road trip to the Pacific Northwest, the Gauchos adjusted its game plan in their return home and it paid dividends in the early going.

"This was a very important game for us coming off of last weekend," said head coach Tim Vom Steeg. "It was important for a lot of reasons – it's important to win your home games and it's important for us to, in a way, reestablish ourselves and get some confidence back."

With multiple looks on goal early and often, UCSB broke through after a Butler hand ball gave the Gauchos a free kick from 25 yards out on the left side. Axel Mendez tapped the ball to his right to Hunter Ashworth, who fired a missile through the box that was deflected right to Michael. Before the defense could react, Michael sent the ball into the right corner of the goal for the ultimate game-winner.

Santa Barbara outshot Butler 9-3 in the first half and 16-7 for the game, holding on to its early lead for 84 minutes despite some pressure late from the Bulldogs. UCSB keeper Ben Roach finished with three saves, two of which came in the second half.

"It was an excellent first half," Vom Steeg said. "And as much as I was disappointed that we can do better in the second half, I have to tell you that we at least competed through the half which we did not do at Seattle."

The Gauchos threatened to add another goal or two on the board as both Ignacio Tellechea and Thibault Candia had great looks at goal on the night.

Tellechea led all players with four shots while Michael finished with three and Mendez tallied two, both on target.

UCSB heads back out on the road for three straight matches, beginning this Tuesday, Sept. 11 at New Mexico at 7:00 p.m.

Santa Barbara hosts the 2018 College Cup at Harder Stadium in December and season tickets as well as College Cup packages are on sale now and can be found online here or by calling the UCSB Athletics Ticket Office at 805-893-UCSB.