Freshman goalkeeper Kristopher Minton was named the Big West Player of the Week, the conference announced Monday, after he helped the UCSB men’s soccer team defeat No. 10 Indiana 2-1 on Saturday in Bloomington, Ind.
Making just his second start all season — and playing his first complete game — Minton made four saves and was crucial in the victory that may have helped right the Gauchos’ season. UCSB, ranked as high as No. 15 as of Monday, had just suffered its worst loss less than a week before to No. 1 Wake Forest before defeating Indiana.
Minton, a redshirt freshman, was just minutes away from his first career shutout before Indiana scored with 2:10 left, taking advantage of the Gauchos having to play a man down after junior David Walker was given a red card at 73:35. In all, the Hoosiers took 21 shots to the Gauchos’ seven, but Minton helped deflect away the pressure in the upset victory.
“He played a game at an environment that is a very difficult place to play, and he played well and did all the things you have to do to win a game,” head coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “Although he is young, he didn’t play young. He played with a lot of maturity and poise.”
The Gauchos got the game-winning goal from senior Chris Pontius, who headed in his team-high seventh goal with just 12 seconds remaining before halftime to give UCSB a 2-0 lead. Pontius, a senior on the Hermann Trophy watch list, was rewarded for his efforts by being named to College Soccer News’ Team of the Week, a national team made up of the top collegiate players each week during the season. Last week, the senior forward was named to Top Drawer Soccer’s Team of the Week.
“He’s a player that came in to the season with a lot of hype and a lot of expectations, and through the first eight games he’s lived up to them all,” Vom Steeg said. “He remains the most dangerous player on the field whenever we play anybody, and we feel that as the team starts to play even better and we find ourselves on the field, his production will improve even more.”
This week, junior Jon Curry was awarded to Top Drawer’s Team of the Week. Curry, who has started all but one of the team’s games, assisted on Pontius’ goal.
“In this particular game he served the cross that was the deciding goal and obviously he is a very, very good two-way player both in his ability to serve balls and his ability to defend,” Vom Steeg said. “Both of those skills were needed in the win over Indiana.”
Matt Hurst is UCSB‘s assistant sports information director.