After one of the UCSB men’s soccer team’s toughest losses in recent history, head coach Tim Vom Steeg was concerned heading into Saturday’s game against No. 10 Indiana.

“I think we learned a lot from the Wake Forest game and it taught us we’re not playing at a level high enough to beat anybody,” Vom Steeg said.

Obviously his tune changed after Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Hoosiers, a rematch of the 2004 NCAA title game that the Gauchos lost in a penalty kick shootout.

UCSB improves to 5-3-0 while Indiana falls to 4-2-2.

Vom Steeg called the victory a “huge, huge win” as UCSB was paced by goals from Alfonso Motagalvan and Chris Pontius and a sterling game in goal by Kristopher Minton.

“I’m proud of our effort,” Vom Steeg said. “Every time we play, we keep getting things better. More than anything we played with a lot of heart and played our best all season.”

Senior forward Pontius continued his offensive surge, scoring his fourth goal in three games and his seventh this season when he headed in a shot from five yards out, taking a pass from Jon Curry and finding the back of the net at 44:48, just 12 seconds before halftime.

“That was a big play for us,” Vom Steeg said. “It put us up 2-0, and it fired us up.”

The Gauchos got their first goal at 11:46 when Motagalvan scored his first goal this season, knocking in a shot from two yards out in a mad scramble after receiving a corner kick. Freshman Bryan Dominguez earned the assist on the play, his team-leading fifth this season.

“We played the best first half of the season, and we really moved the ball around well and created good opportunities,” Vom Steeg said.

Minton, making his second start this season, had four saves and the lone goal he allowed came with 2:10 remaining in the game when the Gauchos were playing with a man down. That’s because David Walker received a red card — the first by any UCSB player this season — at 73:35. Walker, a junior who has started every game this season, is ineligible to play Wednesday at UCLA.

“Minton had a really big save in first half and played well,” Vom Steeg said. “[Indiana’s] Will Bruin had a through-ball on the right-hand side, ripped it and Minton put a leg out and saved it. It was one of those plays and he stayed big. He stayed where he was supposed to stay and he made the save.”

Indiana outshot the Gauchos 21-7, but a revamped defense with Martin Hedevag and Motagalvan both playing back helped alleviate Minton of further pressure.

Following Andy Adlard’s goal to bring the score to 2-1 there was another flurry in front of the goal, but the Gauchos cleared it and prevented themselves from losing their consecutive games for the second time this season.

“What we’ve always known is that we’re talented,” Vom Steeg said, “but what we doubted was our ability to work hard enough to win a game like tonight.”

The Gauchos will face UCLA Wednesday in Los Angeles. The game can be heard on KCSB 91.9 FM or streaming online by clicking here. The game is also available through Gametracker. Click here.

Matt Hurst is UCSB‘s assistant sports information director.