Oct. 7, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A red-hot Nick Perera scored a goal early in the first half and then found the net again in the second, lifting the 28th-ranked UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team to a 2-0 victory over No. 15 UC Irvine Saturday night at Harder Stadium. The Gauchos were outstanding defensively, holding the Big West Conference leaders to just two shots in the win.
With the victory, UCSB improves to 7-5-0 overall and 3-1-0 in the Big West, while UCI, who lost for just the second time this season, falls to 8-2-2 and 3-1-0 in conference. The win gives the Gauchos nine points and puts them back in the top spot in the league standings along with the Anteaters. Idle Cal State Northridge is a close third with eight points at 2-0-2.
It was evident from start of Saturday's game that the Gauchos wanted to make a statement against the conference leaders and it did not take them long to draw first blood. In the 15th minute, Kevin Santora attempted to clear the ball out of the Irvine box, but junior midfielder Brennan Tennelle charged in to deflect the kick. The ball bounced off his back and went directly to Perera in the box about 15 yards out. He then crossed over and split two defenders before shooting past a diving Anteater goalkeeper Kenny Schoeni inside the left post for the eventual game-winner.
The native of Madrid, Spain struck again in the second half to give UCSB its final 2-0 advantage. After the ball was played back to Schoeni, his kick out of the box went straight up in the air. With several of UCI defender's still moving forward, Perera tracked down the ball on the run and passed off to senior midfielder Eric Frimpong to his right. Frimpong one timed it around a defender right back to Perera entering the box. Schoeni came out on the play and Perera chipped the ball in over his head at the 68:19 mark.
With the pair of goals, the sophomore forward is now second on the squad with three this season. Perera also netted the game-winner in the second overtime period September 21 at Cal State Fullerton.
The Gauchos turned in one of their best performances of the season defensively, limiting the Anteaters to a season-low two shots. Without its two top goal scorers in Brad Evans and Matt Murphy out serving red card suspensions, Irvine struggled to ever get anything going offensively. The Anteaters only real scoring opportunity came at the 48:28 mark when forward Rudy Mondragon got a good foot on the ball in the box, but Gaucho keeper Kyle Reynish was there to make the save diving to his left.
UCSB took a total of 11 shots in the match, with just three of those coming on frame. The shutout was the sixth of the season for Reynish and the Gauchos.
"Tonight was a critical match up for us," head coach Tim Vom Steeg said. "This team was leading the conference and highly ranked. We needed a victory to get things turned around and we went out and played very well defensively."
When asked about Perera's performance, Vom Steeg noted, "He's being doing this kind of thing all season in practice. We knew he was capable of scoring the ball and it was great to see him come out and do it for us in a big game."
UCSB hits the road again next week with Big West Conference match ups against UC Riverside and Cal Poly. The Gauchos will take on the Highlanders Wednesday, October 11 at 3:00 p.m. and then travel to Central Coast rival Cal Poly next Saturday, October 14 for a 7:00 p.m. match.