No. 18 UCSB Plays Out Tight Affair With No. 25 San Diego to 2-2 Draw

(Photo by Eric Isaacs)
(Photo by Eric Isaacs)

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team extended its unbeaten streak to seven games with a 2-2 draw at San Diego on Tuesday night, the team's second in a row.

It took until the 39th minute for junior left winger Ameyawu Muntari to score the game's first goal, as the Ghanaian picked up a ball from senior attacking midfielder Thibault Candia, dribbles, and delivered a left-footed 27-yard shot into the upper left corner in what was a marvelous strike.

"Muntari's goal was world-class and it's a goal that we haven't seen in a while in UCSB soccer. Last season we didn't have a single goal from outside the box, and this season we've had several," said head coach Tim Vom Steeg of the goal.

The Gauchos took the 1-0 lead into halftime, but San Diego tied the game and went ahead after a quickfire double.

In the 49th minute, a shot from right back Aidan Marmion came in from the right side of the box and it was parried into the path of oncoming midfielder Ross Meldrum.

Less than five minutes later, a flurry of attacks from the hosts that caused moments of disarray in the Gaucho defense saw wide midfielder Freddy Polzer tap home the go-ahead goal.

It took until the 69th minute for the Gauchos to make the scoreline level, when senior striker Will Baynham extended his point streak to four games with a lofted through ball out to the right side of midfield that Rodney Michael picked up, outracing San Diego defender Till Stockmann through to the right side of the box, where he lifted his shot past goalkeeper Matt Wiher for the Sierra Leonean's second goal in two games.

Michael had two quality chances in the first overtime but couldn't convert on either to get the Gauchos the golden goal.

The first came at the 93-minute mark, when Candia laid off a free kick to Michael, and his shot was just over the crossbar.

Then, Michael latched onto a pass at the top of the box, which he dribbled out towards his left to create a one-on-one opportunity. However, the goalkeeper Wiher was able to position himself to make the shooting angle tighter and Michael hit the side netting.

Sophomore goalkeeper Ben Roach made four saves in the match, the last of which came on a threatening shot in the 104th minute of play from Meldrum, which the Santa Barbara-native tipped over the bar to keep the game tied.

We played two teams that are, at least RPI-wise, top 25 teams. From those games, we got two draws, one at home and one away. This was another game where we've come back from behind. Those are all things you have to feel really good about and there's a lot of positives, but it's not the situation we want to be in. You're asking a lot of your players," added Vom Steeg.

The match featured several changes to the lineup after senior center back Faouzi Taieb's injury against No. 1 Stanford on Saturday and the continued absence of junior defensive midfielder Kaya Fabbretti due to injury, including a second career start to sophomore defensive midfielder Sam Fletcher and a start for senior Mateo Restrepo Mejia at right centerback.

"I thought he was the best player on the field, given what we were asking him to do and with the injuries that we've had occur to our team," remarked Vom Steeg of Restrepo Mejia's performance.

UCSB returns home to take on Cal Poly on Saturday in the final non-conference match. The first 1,000 fans will receive Thundersticks. Tickets for the match are available on UCSBGauchos.com, by visiting the ticket office, or by calling (805) 893-UCSB. A live stream of the match will be available on Big West TV, accessible via the men's soccer schedule page.

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