October 4, 2007

Pontius' Hat Trick Propels No. 12 UCSB To 4-0 Victory Over 25th-Ranked UC Irvine

Oct. 4, 2007

Box Score

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - With the Fox Soccer Channel cameras rolling, junior Chris Pontius continued to excel offensively scoring three goals to lead the 12th-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team to a convincing 4-0 win over No. 25 UC Irvine Wednesday night at Harder Stadium. Alfonso Motagalvan also found the net as the Gauchos won their second straight match by a 4-0 count.

With the victory, UCSB has now won five of its last seven since starting the season 0-1-1 and improved to 5-2-2 overall. The Gauchos' unbeaten streak reached to four games and the team has now outscored its opponents 8-0 in the first two matches of Big West play. UCI, who kicked off its conference schedule Wednesday, has now gone winless in its last four since starting 5-0 and fell to 5-2-2 overall.

"Our offense has really put it together over the last handful of games and we were fortunate to keep it going against a very good Anteater team tonight," head coach Tim Vom Steeg said. "We got another tremendous performance from Pontius obviously and, more importantly, our defense went out and recorded another shutout, which it's capable of doing each and every night."

Pontius, who entered Wednesday's College Soccer Game of the Week with the team lead in goals scored with four, started up front for the second straight match and made the most of it, tallying three goals for the first time in his career. He became the first Gaucho to record a hat trick since Tyler Rosenlund scored all three goals in UCSB's 3-2 win over Northwestern in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals last season. The Yorba Linda, Calif. native, who had scored just four goals in 43 career games entering the 2007 season, now leads the Big West Conference and ranks among the top five in the nation with seven through the Gauchos' first nine games.

Pontius got things going when he put the Gauchos on the board at the 25:16 mark. After a ball was played up to junior midfielder Eric Avila on the right side, the 2007 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy candidate crossed through the box. Senior forward Tino Nuñez slowed the pass and one-timed off for Pontius, who finished the play slipping it past Aggie goalkeeper Greg Larson for the early 1-0 lead. The game-winner was his third of the season and second in as many games.

Motagalvan chipped in with his second goal of the season exactly four minutes later when he charged a loose ball at the top of the box, used a chest trap to gather himself, and beat a diving Larson -- who was filling in for injured starter Pat Barton -- to the right side of goal, as the Gauchos took a 2-0 advantage in the 30th minute.

The Santa Barbara cushion swelled to 3-0 before halftime in the 39th. Sophomore midfielder Ciaran O'Brien's corner kick found Motagalvan in the box. The normally defensive-minded midfielder nearly scored his second goal of the evening when his header bounced off the crossbar and straight down, but the ball did not cross the goal line and bounced out to Pontius on the left side. All alone in front of the net, he punched it home, effectively putting the match out of reach.

With a three goal advantage, the game was all but decided in the first half. UCSB out-shot UCI in dominating fashion 14-2 and held a 4-2 corner kick advantage. The Gauchos controlled possession for the duration of the opening half and spent what seemed like all 45 minutes on the Anteaters' side of the field.

With the Gaucho defense holding things down in the second half, Pontius added his third goal of the evening in the 85th minute for good measure. On a UCSB counter, senior midfielder Brennan Tennelle carried the ball on the right flank and drew the keeper out of position. He then sent a perfect cross to Pontius on his left and the Gauchos' newest offensive juggernaut completed the hat trick, easily chipping it over Larson, who was trying to recover on the play.

The Santa Barbara defense turned in another outstanding performance, holding the opposition scoreless for the second consecutive match. UCSB, who out-shot UCI 21-10 for the game, has now played over 232 minutes spanning its last three contests without allowing a goal.

The Gauchos look to keep things going and remain undefeated in Big West play when they host Cal State Fullerton Saturday at 7:00 p.m. UCI in dominating fashion 14-2 and held a 4-2 corner kick advantage. The Gauchos controlled possession for the duration of the opening half and spent what seemed like all 45 minutes on the Anteaters' side of the field.

With the Gaucho defense holding things down in the second half, Pontius added his third goal of the evening in the 85th minute for good measure. On a UCSB counter, senior midfielder Brennan Tennelle carried the ball on the right flank and drew the keeper out of position. He then sent a perfect cross to Pontius on his left and the Gauchos' newest offensive juggernaut completed the hat trick, easily chipping it over Larson, who was trying to recover on the play.

The Santa Barbara defense turned in another outstanding performance, holding the opposition scoreless for the second consecutive match. UCSB, who out-shot UCI 21-10 for the game, has now played over 232 minutes spanning its last three contests without allowing a goal.

The Gauchos look to keep things going and remain undefeated in Big West play when they host Cal State Fullerton Saturday at 7:00 p.m.

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