Sept. 5, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Sophomore midfielder Chris Pontius found the net for the first time this season and freshman forward Bongomin Otii chipped in with his team-leading fourth goal as UC Santa Barbara blanked visiting Cal Poly 2-0 Tuesday night at Harder Stadium. The Gauchos kicked off conference play with their 11th consecutive win over their Central Coast rivals.
With the victory, Santa Barbara improves to 3-1-0 overall and 1-0-0 in the Big West, while San Luis Obispo heads home with a 1-2-1 overall record and a 0-1-0 conference mark.
The Mustangs surprised the Gauchos early in the first half, limiting the home team to just four total shots in the opening period. In fact, UCSB's first shot of the game didn't come until about 18 minutes left in the period, when a strike from Eric Avila just outside the box bounced off a Cal Poly defender.
Santa Barbara finally broke through just before the break in the 44th minute. After a Mustang foul, freshman midfielder Jon Curry's free kick from the left side sailed into the box and was cleared out by a Cal Poly defender. Pontius was there to collect the rebound outside the right corner and immediately fired a rocket from 30 yards out up and in the top right corner of the net, beyond the outstretched arms of Mustang goalkeeper Eric Branagan-Franco. The goal, which proved to be the game-winner, was the fourth for Pontius in his career.
After taking the 1-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, UCSB put the game out of reach in the 72nd minute. Goalkeeper Kyle Reynish started the play, clearing a ball out of the box just beyond midfield. Brennan Tennelle then one-time the ball over his head to forward Andrew Proctor, who beat his man one-on one on the right wing and laid the ball off for a slashing Otii just inside the box. The Denver native poked a shot into the right side of the net and passed a diving Branagan-Franco for the final 2-0 margin.
Otii has now scored four goals in four games for the Gauchos this season.
Santa Barbara completely dominated the second half of play, outshooting the Mustangs 8-0 in the period. The Gauchos also held a 5-0 advantage in corner kicks after halftime. Reynish made a season-low one save in the match, registering his third complete game shutout in four games.
"We played a very organized, tough team tonight," head coach Tim Vom Steeg said. "They worked very hard to take us out of our game and we had to make some adjustments at halftime to open things up a little bit. This was a big win for us over the best Cal Poly team we have seen in years."
UCSB's four-game homestand continues this Friday, September 8 when they take on the 18th-ranked University of Illinois at Chicago in a non-conference match. The Gauchos and Flames will play at 7:30 in the second end of a twinbill after the women welcome Wisconsin in their home opener at 5:00 p.m.