Gauchos-Mustangs Battle to 0-0 Draw in Important Big West Showdown
Nov. 5, 2008
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Playing in front of 9,749 fans, its largest regular season crowd ever and the fourth largest regular season crowd in NCAA history, the 17th-ranked UC Santa Barbara soccer team battled visiting No. 25 Cal Poly to a 0-0 double overtime draw on Wednesday night. The tie enabled the Mustangs (10-4-5 overall, 5-2-3 in the Big West) to remain one point ahead of the Gauchos (10-5-3 overall, 5-2-2 in the Big West) at the top of the Big West standings.
UCSB outshot Cal Poly 19-10 overall, but just 5-4 on goal. Mustang goalkeeper Eric Franco-Branagan had five saves for his team, three of which were spectacular. None of his saves, however, were better than his first.
Just 7:27 into the match Gaucho midfielder Peter McGlynn drove down the right side of the box and hit a perfect cross towards the left post. Senior forward Chris Pontius, playing his final regular season game at Harder Stadium, jumped high and got his head on the ball and redirected it towards the upper left corner. Franco-Branagan reacted in a split second, leaped and with his outstretched hand, punched the ball over the crossbar.
Pontius left the match in the 25th minute with a bloody head injury. He did, however, return about 15 minutes later with a bandaged head. Early in the second half, Pontius had another golden opportunity to give his team the lead when David Walker slid a pass to him just in front of the goal, but Branagan-Franco made another outstanding save.
The Mustangs' best chance to score came at 75:18 when UCSB was whistled for hand ball in the box. Cal Poly's Anton Peterlin took the kick with Gaucho goalkeeper Kristopher Minton ready to defend. Peterlin, however sailed the ball high over the center of the crossbar and the score remained tied.
In the 79th minute, UCSB midfielder Luis Silva was red carded when he was called for elbowing Peterlin in the face. As was the case when the teams met in San Luis Obispo on Oct. 17, the Gauchos were forced to play one man down for the rest of the second half and overtime.
"I thought we played better tonight than we did in the last game against them," said Santa Barbara head coach Tim Vom Steeg. "In the first half I thought we really controlled the game and created some great chances. Their keeper (Franco-Branagan) made a couple of great saves."
Wednesday night's tie means that Cal Poly cannot win the Big West regular season title. The Mustangs have 18 points, one ahead of UCSB, but the Gauchos have one league game remaining, at UC Davis (15 points) on Saturday, while the Mustangs have completed their Big West schedule. Any result in the Gaucho-Aggie game would knock Cal Poly out of first since it possesses none of the tiebreakers among the three. UCSB would win the title if it defeats Davis. The Aggies would win the title with a win and a UC Irvine tie or loss at Cal State Northridge on Saturday. The Anteaters have 16 points. UCI would win the regular season crown with a win and a Gaucho tie or loss.
The top two teams will host games in the Big West Tournament which will be played on Wednesday, Nov. 12. The highest remaining seed would host the championship game on Saturday, Nov. 15.