Hunter Ashworth, UCSB
Hunter Ashworth of UCSB tries to score on a header while be challenged by Butler goalkeeper Gabriel Gjergji.  (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Rodney Michael scored in the 6th minute of the match and the UC Santa Barbara men’s soccer team made the goal stand up for  a 1-0 victory over Butler on Saturday night at Harder Stadium.

The result snapped a two-game losing streak and improved the Gauchos’ record to 3-2-0, with all three wins coming at home. Butler, which was ranked No. 9 to start the season and received votes in the latest United Soccer Coaches Poll, falls to 1-3-1.

“This was a very important game for us coming off of last weekend,” said head coach Tim Vom Steeg, referring to losses at Portland and Seattle. “It was important for a lot of reasons – it’s important to win your home games and it’s important for us to, in a way, reestablish ourselves and get some confidence back.”

With multiple looks on goal early and often, UCSB broke through after a Butler hand ball gave the Gauchos a free kick from 25 yards out on the left side. Axel Mendez tapped the ball to his right to Hunter Ashworth, who fired a missile through the box that was deflected right to Michael. Before the defense could react, Michael sent the ball into the right corner of the goal for the ultimate game-winner.

Santa Barbara outshot Butler 9-3 in the first half and 16-7 for the game, holding on to its early lead for 84 minutes despite some pressure late from the Bulldogs. UCSB keeper Ben Roach finished with three saves, two of which came in the second half.

“It was an excellent first half,” Vom Steeg said. “And as much as I was disappointed that we can do better in the second half, I have to tell you that we at least competed through the half which we did not do at Seattle.”

The Gauchos threatened to add another goal or two on the board as both Ignacio Tellechea and Thibault Candia had great looks at goal on the night.

Tellechea led all players with four shots while Michael finished with three and Mendez tallied two, both on target.

UCSB heads back out on the road for three straight matches, beginning this Tuesday, Sept. 11 at New Mexico at 7:00 p.m.