SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – It was a tale of two halves on Saturday night as the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team made key halftime adjustments to flip the script and score three second half goals to defeat CSUN 3-0 in a pivotal conference matchup at Harder Stadium.
"This was a very important win for us," said head coach Tim Vom Steeg. "We both came in tied in points, tied in wins, tied in everything – very similar to the UC Davis game – and we've been playing with our backs against the wall for the past three games, in my opinion."
The win puts the Gauchos (9-6-1, 3-2-1 Big West) in sole possession of third-place, trailing second-place UC Riverside by just two points in the standings with one match remaining. UCSB will have a week to rest before its much-anticipated regular season finale and Blue-Green Rivalry match against Cal Poly on Saturday, Oct. 27. UCR, meanwhile, hosts Cal State Fullerton in its final game. CSUN (8-7-1, 2-3-1 Big West) falls into a three-way tie for fourth-place along with Fullerton and UC Davis, all three teams that UCSB holds a tiebreaker over.
As for Saturday's match, the Matadors came out as the aggressors, outshooting the Gauchos 8-3 in the first half and creating four corner kick opportunities. Ben Roach came up with a pair of crucial saves in the 28th minute to halt an attack from the Big West's leading scorer Daniel Trejo while Sahid Conteh made a big time defensive play to prevent a CSUN goal on a fast break in the 33rd minute.
After holding strong defensively for the first 45 minutes, UCSB switched up its formation at halftime to throw off the Matadors, and it worked to the tune of three goals in a seven minutes span.
OLÉ, OLÉ, OLÉ... @UCSBMensSoccer a 7-minute, 16-second blitz to top #CSUN, 3-0.— Big West M-Soccer (@BigWestMSOC) October 21, 2018
⚽️ 51' Kaya Fabbretti (Ignacio Tellechea)
⚽️ 55' Rodney Michael (Sahid Conteh)
⚽️ 58' Hunter Ashworth (Noah Billingsley)
The #BlueGreen at home to finish the regular season next Saturday! #PlayBig pic.twitter.com/B9JRYRDQ0A
Fitting the theme all season long, when the Gauchos score, they score in bunches and that proved true on Saturday. Just four minutes later, the Freetown, Sierra Leone connection was in full effect as Sahid Conteh dished to Rodney Michael who knew just what to do with it for his seventh goal of the year.
Santa Barbara outshot CSUN 10-1 in the final 45 minutes, a complete reversal from the first half, to remain undefeated at home this season (8-0).
Ashworth, Michael and Tellechea led the way with three shots apiece for UCSB while Ben Roach came up with four saves in his fifth shutout of the year.
The UCSB vs. Cal Poly match is slated for a 5:00 p.m. start next Saturday, Oct. 27 at Harder Stadium.
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.