Aug. 25, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Newcomer Michael Boxall scored in the first half and senior forward Andrew Proctor found the net in the second as the top-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team continued its recent domination of Westmont College with a 2-0 victory in the 45th Annual Bryant & Sons Cup Saturday night at Harder Stadium.
After the Gauchos were presented with their national championship rings prior to the start of the match, Santa Barbara went on to control the ball for the entire game and posted a seventh consecutive victory over the Warriors. UCSB has out-scored Westmont 22-5 with four shutouts over that span.
While the Harder Stadium faithful were not treated to anything close to the 6-0 thrashing the Gauchos unleashed on the Warriors in last season's meeting, it was not because UCSB went without its chances. The Gauchos out-shot their cross-town rivals 20-3, with 15 of their shots coming on frame. Warrior goalkeeper Justin Etherton was tremendous, making 13 saves including several diving stops that looked like easy scores for the home squad.
"Westmont played great defense tonight," head coach Tim Vom Steeg said. "We obviously had our chances and I would have liked to have scored a couple more goals but you have to take your hat off to the Warriors and their defense. Their keeper was unbelievable tonight."
After a few decent scoring chances, Santa Barbara got on the board in the 12th minute. After a Westmont foul, senior defender Greg Curry lined up for the free kick and fired a low liner from 30 yards out through the box. Etherton was there to stop the Gaucho captain's shot with a diving save to his left, but the rebound bounced back into the box and Boxall cleaned it up to give his new team a 1-0 lead.
The defending champions took a 2-0 advantage at the 72:17 mark on the type of play Gaucho fans are sure to see much more of in the future. Sophomore transfer Ciaran O'Brien played a ball up for 2007 M.A.C Hermann Trophy candidate Eric Avila on the left side. Avila chased the ball down and then crossed to Proctor just outside the 20-yard box. The senior forward collected himself and placed a beautiful shot to the upper right corner of the net beyond the outstretched arms of Etherton for the final 2-0 margin.
Senior forward Tino Nuñez, who returned in excellent shape this season, looked good on Saturday and had two quality looks late in the second half. Like many of his teammates, Nuñez fell victim to the great play of Etherton.
On the topic of great defense, three-time All-American and reigning Big West Conference Defender of the Year Andy Iro looked great in his first game back after a rigorous tour with England's National Team at the World University Games in Thailand. His backline -- along with Curry and Boxall for much of the match -- held things down all night and rookie keeper Bryant Rueckner only needed to make one save to earn his first (exhibition) victory between the pipes.
Westmont's first shot came with 20:48 to play in the first half. The Warrior's three shots were one more than they were able to muster in last year's meeting.
UCSB opens the regular season next Friday, August 31 at Pac-10 power Stanford. Kickoff for that match is slated for 7:00 p.m.