Gauchos Rally Past Riverside for Fourth Straight Win

Senior defender Alex Liua scored his first career goal for UCSB on Saturday night. (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Senior defender Alex Liua scored his first career goal for UCSB on Saturday night. (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – It was another offensive display at Harder Stadium for the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team, rallying from a one-goal deficit to ease by UC Riverside 3-1 in Big West action on Saturday night to notch its fourth straight win. 

After scoring just five goals through the first eight games of the season, the Gauchos (4-4-2, 2-0 Big West) have now scored eight goals in their last two after pouring in five on Thursday night against Cal State Fullerton and three against the Highlanders (0-9, 0-2 Big West).

It was also the second straight game that UCSB came from behind to win as UC Riverside took an early lead with a goal in the 13th minute, seemingly out of nowhere. The Highlanders played the ball up the field and a pair of Gauchos, including keeper Alan Carrillo looked to have the play defused, but UCR forward Eduardo Sanchez somehow snuck his foot in between them and poked the ball towards the net for a goal.

The Gauchos, however, kept up their offensive pressure and it seemed only a matter of time before they would even the score. After a flurry of shots from Rodney Michael and Ignacio Tellechea were denied, UCSB eventually broke through with the equalizer in the 38th minute. A shot from Derek Kryzda at the top of the box was blocked by the defense and squirted its way over to Alex Liua on the left side of the pitch. Liua made a quick move on his defender and curled a shot towards the back post and in to put the Gauchos back in the game before the half. The goal also marked the first career score for Liua, a senior defender. 

The second 45 minutes was all UCSB, as the Gauchos outshot UCR 13-5 in the half, and controlled possession throughout.

In the 54th minute, Noah Billingsley provided the game-winner and put the Gauchos ahead for good with an impressive chip shot that lofted over the keeper and into the back of the net. Tellechea earned the assist on the play after finding his way into an attacking position and drew the keeper off line before his shot deflected to an open Billingsley.

For good measure, Michael tacked on a third goal in the 86th minute after sprinting through a handful of Highlander defenders with impeccable ball control before firing a laser to the left corner of the goal. With the score, Michael tied Tellechea for team-high honors with four goals this season.

UCSB set a season-high with 25 shots in the match, which is nearly one-third of its total shot tally this year. UC Riverside held a 6-5 advantage in corner kicks. Michael and Tellechea tied for game-high honors with five shots apiece while Billingsley and Sahid Conteh each tallied four. All five of Tellechea's shots were on target. Alan Carrillo finished with five saves in goal for the Gauchos and Vincent Morales tallied 10 in the net for UCR.

UCSB continues Big West action with a trio of upcoming road matches, beginning this Thursday, Oct. 5 against Cal State Northridge at 7:00 p.m.

Season tickets and individual game tickets are available online here or call the UCSB Athletics Ticket Office at 805-893-UCSB (8272).