Senior forward Chris Pontius, a Pre-Season Third-Team All-America and on the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy watch list, got his season — and that of the UCSB men’s soccer team — off to a rousing start.

Pontius scored both of UCSB’s goals as the Gauchos, ranked No. 9 by College Soccer News, defeated Air Force 2-1 on Friday night at Harder Stadium. Though the margin of victory was tight, the game was clearly in the Gauchos’ favor as UCSB outshot Air Force 28-8.

The team’s leading returning goal scorer, Pontius found the net at 35:01 as he curled a shot from about 22 yards out past Air Force goalkeeper Jim Gullo, beating the Falcons’ goalie on the far post. The assist came from freshman Bryan Dominguez, who continually wowed the crowd of 2,385 with his footwork and dribbling skills.

The two weren’t done after the first goal. They hooked up again, this time with help from senior Nick Perera, at 56:40 with Pontius putting another shot past Gullo for a 2-0 advantage. Perera took the ball on the right side of the goal, along the goal line, and fed the ball to Dominguez, who whistled a shot toward goal. Gullo initially stopped it, but Pontius came streaking in from the left and knocked it into the net.

The Gauchos (1-0-0) continued the pressure on Gullo all night, peppering him with 15 shots in the first half and 13 in the second, including 10 shots on goal in the match.

The Falcons (0-1-0) cut the score in half when Ryan Robinson scored from 10 yards out at 67:59, but Air Force could hardly pressure UCSB the rest of the night, putting only two shots on goal and eight overall, barely testing freshman Trond Helge Trakset, who was making his first appearance in goal. Trakset, who hails from Norway, made one save.

UCSB hardly needed him as 10 Gauchos attempted shots, keeping the ball on Air Force’s side of the field throughout the night. Pontius registered eight shots, Jon Curry had five, Dominguez tallied four, and Michael Tetteh and Alfonso Motagalvan each had three.

Pontius, who scored twice in last week’s exhibition win over Westmont, left the game midway through the second half for precautionary measures and will be re-evaluated this week.

The Gauchos’ next game is Friday at Harder Stadium against Kentucky. The game will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel with the kickoff at 8 p.m.

Matt Hurst is UCSB‘s assistant sports information director.