Gauchos Stung by Hornets in Big West Opener

Thibault Candia (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Thibault Candia (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Unbeaten in its past six Big West Conference openers entering Wednesday night, the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team had that streak snapped after Sacramento State snared a 1-0 victory over the Gauchos at Hornet Soccer Field.

UCSB (6-5-0, 0-1-0 Big West) dropped its first game to Sacramento State (3-6-2, 1-0-0 Big West) since the 2015 season, although have historically dominated the all-time series with a 13-2-3 record during the Tim Vom Steeg era (since 1999).

Playing through the pouring rain in the first half, the Hornets managed to hold the Gauchos without a shot while tallying four of their own.

Santa Barbara ramped up its offensive attack in the second half with 12 shots, including a flurry of five shots during a four-minute stretch late in the game. Sac State keeper Ryan Curtis came up with five big saves to keep the Gauchos scoreless on the night.

Three straight corner kicks built up the momentum for the Hornets, who broke through for the game-winning goal in the 79th minute.

After snagging possession near midfield, Sacramento pushed the ball up quickly in the attacking third. Faouzi Taieb was nearly able to make a play and clear the ball, but Benji Kikanovic managed to control it. Kikanovic dished to his right at the top of the 18-yard box and Matt Carnefix sent it past a diving Alan Carrillo to the near post.

Carrillo, making his first start of the season, tallied five shots in goal for the Gauchos, who were missing standout defender Hunter Ashworth due to yellow card accumulation and starting keeper Ben Roach after picking up a red card on Sunday at Cal Poly.

Rodney Michael, Axel Mendez and Taieb each tallied three shots for UCSB with all three of Michael's coming on target. The Gauchos outshot the Hornets 12-11 while Sac State held a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks.

UCSB will continue conference play at home, where it is undefeated (5-0), this Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7:00 p.m. against Cal State Fullerton.

UC Santa Barbara hosts the 2018 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer College Cup on Dec. 7 and 9 at Harder Stadium. College Cup ticket packages as well as UCSB season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online or by calling the UCSB Athletics Ticket Office at 805-893-UCSB.