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UCSB Rolls Past Westmont in Men’s Soccer Exhibition

Josue Espana’s pair of goals lead Gauchos to 3-0 victory over Warriors

UCSB midfielder Josue Espana goes over Westmont defender Gabe Thurner to head in his second goal at Harder Stadium on Saturday evening. Looking on are Cody Gibson (27) of UCSB and Westmont’s Genaro Hurtado (6) and Jeremia Anderson. Click to view larger
UCSB midfielder Josue Espana goes over Westmont defender Gabe Thurner to head in his second goal at Harder Stadium on Saturday evening. Looking on are Cody Gibson (27) of UCSB and Westmont’s Genaro Hurtado (6) and Jeremia Anderson. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

With electrifying speed and stylish flair displayed throughout against Westmont, UC Santa Barbara looked to ready for the regular season to begin on Saturday night. 

UCSB striker Nick DePuy battles Westmont defender Josh Constant for a ball during Saturday’s 3-0 exhibition victory. Click to view larger
UCSB striker Nick DePuy battles Westmont defender Josh Constant for a ball during Saturday’s 3-0 exhibition victory. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Led by two goals from midfielder Josue Espana, the Gauchos easily defeated the Warriors 3-0 in front of 2,000 fans at Harder Stadium.

“We got off to a great start and I thought we were very dangerous throughout, UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “I liked our ball movement and thought our commitment to defending was good tonight.”

Just seven minutes into the game, Espana gave his Gauchos an early 1-0 advantage with a thunderous shot from 25 yards out that deflected off Westmont goalkeeper Spencer Petty and eventually landed in the net. 

“Headed into the game knowing that this is my last season, I wanted to give it my all tonight,” España commented. “That first goal definitely meant a lot because it allowed us to take control of the game early on.”

However, the Warriors quickly responded with swift drive down the pitch before striker Sean Nakaoka was fouled in the penalty box by UCSB defender Sam Strong

This setup a penalty kick for midfielder Augie Andrade, who fired a meager shot towards the left post that was immediately blocked by Gauchos keeper Titouan Le Roux. 

In the 30th minute, left back Randy Mendoza sprinted down the left corner and crossed a beautiful ball onto the head of España, who converted to extend UCSB’s lead to 2-0.

Despite the match only serving as a preseason tuneup for both squads, the talent gap was made apparent from the get-go, the Gauchos dominated the first half with 10 total shots and 70% of ball possession. 

“We were obviously under a tremendous amount of pressure on the defensive side of the ball for a majority of the game,” Westmont head coach Dave Wolf said. “This was not an easy environment for us to play in and the first half was very difficult.”

UCSB midfielder Daniel Amo leaps over a pair of Westmont defenders while heading a ball towards Warriors goalkeeper Spencer Petty at Harder Stadium. Click to view larger
UCSB midfielder Daniel Amo leaps over a pair of Westmont defenders while heading a ball towards Warriors goalkeeper Spencer Petty at Harder Stadium. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Only a few minutes into the second half, Nick DePuy got in the action with a header from six yards out to put UCSB up 3-0. The Preseason All-America’s impressive score was made possible by a perfectly placed ball from defender Dalton Pando.

“I wanted him to get one more crack at a goal and with a nice ball placed in the right spot, he converted with a great header, added coach Vom Steeg. “At this point, the key for us is to have him score a goal each night.”

As for the Warriors, Andrade put forth a solid effort while tallying two shots on the evening. Westmont was also led by strong performances from defenders Josh Constant and Genaro Hurtado.

Westmont goalkeeper Lalo Delgado makes a diving save past UCSB forward Cody Gibson on Saturday evening. Click to view larger
Westmont goalkeeper Lalo Delgado makes a diving save past UCSB forward Cody Gibson on Saturday evening. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

This contest marked the 54th meeting between the two cross-town schools. With their latest victory over the Warriors, the Gauchos improve their series advantage to 27-23-4.

“I told our guys before the game that their aren’t many small college programs that get a chance to play in a game like this,” coach Wolf said. “Overall, this is a great an opportunity to learn and improve as a team.”

Westmont’s season opener will be played next Saturday, when they face-off at home against Antelope Valley.

On the other hand, No. 13 UCSB begins its regular season next Friday against Oakland in Columbus, Ohio.

“We have a very tough schedule but I feel that this is the right group to rise up to the challenge,” concluded coach Vom Steeg. “We have a hungry team that’s aiming on being a top eight seed and hosting a few NCAA Tournament games.”

— Noozhawk sports reporter Blake DeVine can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports and @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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