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Soccer: UCSB No Match for No. 1 Wake Forest in 6-2 Loss

The Gauchos end a four-match scoreless streak against the Deacons but suffer their worst home loss under coach Tim Vom Steeg.

The good news for the UCSB men’s soccer team was that they found the back of the net twice against Wake Forest, ending a four-match scoreless streak against the Demon Deacons.

Unfortunately, that’s about where the good news ended Sunday evening for the Gauchos.

Facing top-ranked Wake Forest in a match-up between the past two NCAA champions, the Deacons handed UCSB its worst home loss under head coach Tim Vom Steeg, defeating the Gauchos 6-2 in front of 7,408 at Harder Stadium.

The six goals allowed were also the most a Vom Steeg-led UCSB team has given up as Wake Forest received their half-dozen goals all from different players. The previous amount was five goals allowed, done twice, last on Sept. 27, 2006, when the Gauchos lost 5-0 to Cal State Northridge.

UCSB, ranked as high as 14th, falls to 4-3-0 as Wake Forest, ranked first in every national poll, improves to 6-0-0.

Hermann Trophy candidate Marcus Tracy, who was the College Cup’s Most Outstanding Player last season when he led Wake Forest to its first-ever soccer title, tallied a goal and two assists. Corben Bone had a goal and two assists while Sam Cronin, another Hermann Trophy candidate, also scored for the Demon Deacons.

UCSB’s Hermann Trophy candidate Chris Pontius also scored a goal — his sixth — but it came at 77:03, well after the match had been decided. For Pontius, it was his third goal in the short two-game homestand after he scored twice on Thursday in a victory over Evansville.

The sizable crowd, which had fans arriving two hours before the match started until well after kickoff, saw the Gauchos score first when Nick Perera blasted in a shot from 10 yards out on a nice assist from Bryan Dominguez. It was Perera’s first goal of the season and it came just one minute, 50 seconds into the match.

UCSB held that 1-0 advantage almost until halftime as freshman goalie Trond Helge Takset had four first-half saves en route to a career-best six. However, Bone banged in a shot with 48 seconds remaining in the first period when Tracy sent him a pass to the left of the goal and Bone sent the ball inside the right post, knotting things up at 1-1.

From there, Wake Forest was too fast and controlled the ball far too easily in the second half, peppering Takset with 12 shots and scoring three goals in a 17-minute stretch as the Deacons showed why they are considered college soccer’s best team.

Ike Opara scored his first goal of the season at 49:11 when he headed in a ball off a cross from Bone. Cronin scored for the second time this year when he put home a low shot from the center of the box from 12 yards out, and Tracy scored his sixth goal this season on a three-on-one.

The Gauchos tallied just 11 shots, their fewest in a game this season and Sunday was also the first time all year they had been out-shot in a match.

The game represented the inaugural Santa Barbara Challenge Cup, a yearly event that matches the Gauchos at home against a top-tier team. Next season, Indiana is scheduled to face the Gauchos at Harder Stadium.

First, though, UCSB travels to take on the Hoosiers — the team that defeated the Gauchos in the 2004 College Cup final in penalty kicks — on Saturday in Bloomington, Ind.

Matt Hurst is UCSB‘s assistant sports information director.

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