Aug. 25, 2006
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Sophomore midfielder Eric Avila and freshman forward Bongomin Otii led the way scoring two goals apiece as No. 21 UC Santa Barbara opened the 2006 season with a 5-0 rout of No. 7 Akron in the first game of the University of Virginia Soccer Classic Friday. Junior forward Tino Nuñez also found the net in his first game back after missing the entire 2005 season.
After posting a 0-1-1 record at the start of last season, UCSB came out swinging in 2006, out-shooting Akron 13-6. The 5-0 win was the Gauchos' largest margin of victory since they defeated Northwestern 6-1 September 9th at the 2005 UNLV adidas Classic.
"You always want to open the season with a win," head coach Tim Vom Steeg said. "But when you win 5-0, you're extremely pleased with the way your guys played. We could not ask for a better performance to start the year."
Nuñez got the Gaucho offense rolling early on, scoring his first goal since October 13, 2004. In the ninth minute senior midfielder Bryan Byrne's corner kick cleared the box, setting up UCSB's first goal of the afternoon. The ball came out to sophomore midfielder Chris Pontius, who laid it off to a streaking Nuñez. He then shot from just beyond the 18-yard box, putting the ball past Akron goalkeeper Evan Bush in the upper left hand corner.
UCSB made it 2-0 in the 20th minute when Avila collected a cross from Byrne and dribbled into the box. With his left foot, the reigning Big West Freshman of the Year fired a rocket off the left post and in.
Otii's first goal as a Gaucho in the regular season increased UCSB's advantage to 3-0. Sophomore forward Nick Perera carried the ball into the box in the 32nd minute. After it bounced off of Perera's defender, Otii quickly controlled the loose ball, dribbling in from 18 yards out to beat the keeper one on one for the score to give the Gauchos a commanding lead at halftime.
Santa Barbara picked up right where it left off in the second half, scoring again less than three minutes in. Junior forward Andrew Proctor cleared the box with a sailing cross from the right hand side. On the ensuing play, the ball hit an Akron defender on the arm and the Gauchos were awarded a penalty kick. Avila faked right and put the ball in the upper left hand corner of the net for the 4-0 lead.
UCSB's lead swelled to 5-0 in the 67th minute when Santa Barbara capitalized on another Zip handball. After a flurry of shots in the box, the ball again found the outstretched arm of an Akron defender, prompting another Gaucho penalty kick. Otii was elected to take the shot and sent a ball past the diving keeper hard and low.
"It was great to get Avila, one of our main scorers going early," Vom Steeg said. "Bongomin obviously continued to impress us with his ability to score the ball too. We've got a lot of steam heading into Sunday's game with Virginia."
Senior goalkeeper Kyle Reynish was fantastic in the season opener, recording six saves. A spectacular diving stop in the last two minutes of the game preserved the shutout for the Gauchos.
As usually the case with UCSB's style of soccer, Friday's contest was very physical with a total of 31 fouls called. Nuñez and Byrne were both issued yellow cards for UCSB, while Ryan Hathcock collected one for Akron. The Zips bench was also issued a red card after they were whistled for hands the first time.
After Friday's win UCSB is now 6-1-1 in its last eight openers.
Up next for the Gauchos are the third ranked Cavaliers in the final game of the University of Virginia Soccer Classic. The two teams meet after battling to a 0-0 overtime time during last season's UCSB adidas Classic. Kickoff is slated for 4:30 p.m. (PT).