Nov. 18, 2006
NORFOLK, Va. - Forward Nick Perera scored in the seventh minute and midfielder Eric Avila netted the game-winner at the 60:48 mark, as the No. 17 UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team defeated No. 20 Old Dominion in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Saturday night at the ODU Soccer Field. The Gauchos edged the Monarchs in a match that featured 21 fouls and three penalty kicks to advance to a second Elite Eight in the last three years.
With the win, UCSB improves to 15-7-0 this season after winning eight of its last nine games. The Gauchos advance to the program's second-ever Elite Eight appearance after playing in the national championship game in 2004. ODU finishes the season at 14-6-2 after making it to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history following four straight second round exits in the postseason.
"I didn't think we played particularly well tonight," head coach Tim Vom Steeg said. "But we were able to gut it out and get a win and that's the most important thing. When you don't have you're A-game and you're still able to win a game on the road in the playoffs, then you know things are going your way."
In what was called the biggest game in Monarch soccer history, it was a pair of sophomores who led the way for the Gauchos offensively once again. Perera gave UCSB a 1-0 first half lead for the second consecutive game, while Avila scored against the Monarchs after putting in the final goal in Wednesday's 3-1 win over No. 1 SMU.
It didn't take long for Santa Barbara to get on the board against Old Dominion, a team that had shutout its last two opponents. In fact, Perera's goal came on the game's first shot Saturday night. In the seventh minute, 2006 Big West Defender of the Year Andy Iro sent a ball forward for sophomore midfielder Chris Pontius, who rose above a Monarch defender to win the header. The ball came out to Perera, who collected himself and fired from roughly 14 yards out to the left post past a diving goalkeeper Evan Newton.
The Monarchs had their first chance at the equalizer minutes later when midfielder Jared Kent sent a sailing corner kick over the box for Alex Silver, but senior keeper Kyle Reynish was there for the save on his header. Kent had another great look in the 28th minute when he carried a ball up the left wing, crossed over and fired, but Reynish was there for the stop once again. The Valencia, Calif. native came up big once more in the 37th minute, when midfielder Nane Joseph got by Iro in the box and shot tight at Reynish from 10 yards out.
Old Dominion was definitely not without its opportunities in the opening period, recording eight shots, with four coming on frame. UCSB was out-played for much of the first period and only managed three following the goal.
Perera had an excellent look in the first minute of the second, taking a cross from Avila in the box, but ODU defender Trevor Banks recovered to poke to ball away before Perera could get a shot off.
After the Monarchs were awarded a penalty kick in the 70th minute and scored to defeat No. 14 seed North Carolina 1-0 in the second round, they were able to answer the same way against the Gauchos. In the 56th minute, defender David Horst was fouled in the box during a corner kick and forward Ross Mackenzie was elected to take the first of three penalty shots during the match. He placed a rising ball to the left inside post beyond the reach of Reynish.
With the intensity now much higher in the second half, the Monarchs were also whistled for a foul in the box less than five minutes later when Pontius raced to track down a 50-50 ball and was taken to the ground. Avila stepped in to take the kick for UCSB and put home the rebound after Newton guessed right on the initial shot diving to his right.
The San Diego native leads the team with seven goals this season, five of which have come in the last nine games. Avila led the team with a game-high four shots.
From that point, Old Dominion failed to finish on several looks, but was given the opportunity to tie the game when the referee awarded yet another penalty kick in the 86th minute. The foul was called after Reynish charged a ball in the box, made the save, and collided with Horst. Mackenzie was called upon again, only this time Reynish was there, making a diving save to his right stopping the ball on the ground.
ODU came right back when forward Edson Elcock crossed to Horst on the left wing and, with the ball bouncing around in the box, junior midfielder Tyler Rosenlund came in to clear the ball out as the clock ticked down on the Monarchs.
In addition to making the tremendous save on ODU's second pk shot, Reynish finished with a playoff career-high seven saves in the match. Newton recorded five for the Monarchs.
UCSB now awaits the outcome of the UNC-Greensboro and Northwestern match-up scheduled for Sunday to find out its opponent in the quarterfinals. The Gauchos will take on the winner next Saturday, with the site yet to be determined.