Oct. 5, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - No. 7 UCLA scored early in the opening period and then again just before halftime on the way to a 3-1 victory over No. 28 UC Santa Barbara in front of a record crowd of 5,475 Thursday night at Harder Stadium. Senior midfielder Eric Frimpong scored his first goal of the season for the Gauchos in the loss.
With the win, UCLA improves to 7-3-2 overall, while UCSB falls to 6-5-0. The Bruins have a 17 game unbeaten streak in the all-time series with the Gauchos.
With the Fox Soccer Channel cameras rolling, UCLA jumped on UCSB early, scoring a goal just a minute in. From the left side, Sal Zizzo crossed a ball, finding midfielder Michael Stephens streaking on the right. Stephens took a shot and freshman midfielder David Walker tried to clear the ball out of the box, but the ball bounced off his foot and past UCSB goalkeeper Kyle Reynish for the goal at the 1:00 mark. Zizzo was credited with the assist on the play.
Santa Barbara responded just over 20 minutes later. Senior midfielder Bryan Byrne dribbled the ball toward the Bruin box and crossed to sophomore midfielder Eric Avila. Avila gathered himself and sent a bending shot towards the left post but UCLA keeper Brian Perk laid out and made the block. Frimpong collected the rebound in the box and, with Perk on the ground, punched it in knotting the score at 23:12.
The goal was third of the Sunyani, Ghana native's career in his second season wearing the blue and gold.
The Bruins regained the lead for good with less than a minute left before halftime. Zizzo played a ball in the box, leaving it off for midfielder Jason Leopoldo who touched it in past Reynish at 44:15.
In the second half, the Gauchos' comeback effort took a serious blow when defender Greg Curry was issued his second yellow card at the 54:16 mark, forcing them to play a man down. Curry was forced to sit out UCSB's win over Michigan last Saturday serving a red card suspension. The Gauchos have now had to play a man down in three consecutive matches.
The Bruins put the finishing touch on their victory with a goal in the 88th minute. Benefiting from UCLA's advantage, forward David Estrada intercepted a pass for Reynish on the left side and found the net on a sharp-angled shot while almost parallel with the goal. The ball rolled in inside the far post untouched for the final 3-1 lead.
UCSB out-shot the visitors 16-11, with 10 of those on frame, but uncharacteristically lost the corner kick battle 8-0. Sophomore forward Nick Perera led the way with four shots, including a pair of excellent opportunities in the first half.
Perk was tremendous for the Bruins in the goal, recording nine saves. Reynish posted two saves on 11 UCLA shots for the Gauchos.
Thursday's crowd of 5,475 set a regular season record, easily eclipsing last Saturday's mark of 3,577. The all-time Harder Stadium record for attendance was set in 2004, when 11,215 fans watched Santa Barbara defeat Virginia Commonwealth 4-1 in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.
UCSB returns to the Harder Stadium pitch this Saturday, October 7 when UC Irvine comes to town. The Anteaters, who are ranked No. 1 in the NSCAA Far West Region, lead the Big West Conference at 3-0-0. Kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m.