Nov. 17, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The ninth-ranked UC Santa Barbara soccer team had its six-match winning streak ended on Saturday night as it battled visiting UC Riverside to a 1-1 tie. The Gauchos, now unbeaten in seven in a row, had already clinched the Big West title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
UCSB (12-3-4 overall, 9-1-2 in the Big West) honored its six seniors prior to the match and all six were in the starting lineup against the Highlanders (5-6-8 overall, 2-4-6 in the Big West). Defenders Andy Iro and Greg Curry, midfielder Brennan Tennelle, and forwards Tino Nunez, Andrew Proctor and Tony Chinakwe, were all playing their final regular season home games for the Gauchos.
Santa Barbara took a 1-0 lead at the 29:15 mark in the first half. Midfielder Jon Curry stole the ball from a Riverside defender and rifled a pass into the box. The ball was deflected towards the left side of the box, about 10 yards out. Forward Nick Perera stormed in, collected the ball, got behind the defense and hit a shot to the far right post, past an outstretched Charles Alamo. It was Perera's second goal of the season.
Both teams stayed relatively quiet for the rest of the first half and through the early minutes of the second half. UCR came close in the 52nd minute when forward Joel Crompton rifled a shot from above the middle of the penalty box that eluded a leaping Bryant Rueckner but hit the crossbar.
At 63:47, Highlander midfielder Steven Kaufman dribbled into the box directly in front of Rueckner. The Gaucho defenders collapsed on him and knocked him to the turf. He was awarded a penalty kick, which he converted on to tie the score at 1-1.
UCSB had a couple dangerous opportunities late in regulation, including a shot by forward Chris Pontius that seemed headed to the left post before a Riverside defender slid into it at the last second, knocking it wide.
The Gauchos finished the match with 16 shots, six of which were on goal. UCR had seven shots, three on goal. UCSB played without regular starting midfielder Alfonso Montagalvan who was held out because he has four yellow cards and the Gaucho coaches wanted to avoid him collecting his fifth, which would force him to miss an NCAA Tournament match.
Santa Barbara will now await the unveiling of the NCAA Tournament draw on Monday afternoon. The Gauchos will receive an automatic bid as the Big West champs, but they also hope for a first round bye and a home match.