Despite scoring three goals in a torrid second half, No. 17 UC Santa Barbara dropped a 4-3 decision on Wednesday night to Loyola Marymount in a wild men’s soccer match at Harder Stadium.
After LMU took a 3-2 lead in the 84th minute to regain the lead, UCSB’s All-American forward Nick DePuy struck back with an equalizer just 20 seconds later.
Unfortunately for UCSB, the Lions kept up their effectiveness on set pieces, pushing across the game-winning goal on a Connor Johnson header off a corner kick in the 87th.
“I said before that this was going to be a challenging game, and it was,” said UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg. “We didn’t come out playing the way we needed to play. Even if you’re not playing great, you can still find a way to win if you still defend the box well, but that didn’t happen tonight.”
Behind a first-half goal from former Dunn School standout Sahid Conteh and a 47th-minute marker from Jose Ochoa, LMU (5-4-0) went up 2-0 in the contest.
The Gaucho (4-4-0) offense stormed to life after Ochoa’s half-volley, muscling out 12 shots and a trio of goals before the game was out, with Noah Billingsley tying it at 2-2 with his first collegiate goal in the 66th minute.
All four of LMU’s goals Wednesday came off set pieces, with the two middle goals off free kicks bookended by a pair of goals off corners.
As dominant as the Lions were on dead balls, UCSB was just as commanding in the run of play, maintaining consistent pressure near the LMU goal.
Junior midfielder Kevin Feucht started the Gauchos’ second-half push in style, stealing the ball from Lion defender Matt Gooden before finding DePuy in the box. Trying to make a move to get past his defender, DePuy was tripped leading to a penalty kick. Feucht drilled a shot low past LMU keeper Collin Partee’s right for his team-leading fifth goal of the season.
Senior mid Josue Espana was the catalyst for UCSB’s second goal, finding space before unleashing a hard shot from the top of the 18 that was blocked by Partee, but Billingsley was waiting at the goalmouth to tap in the rebound, giving him his first collegiate goal.
Sophomore right back Dalton Pando made a nice play late in the second half to set up the Gauchos’ last goal, winning the ball near the right wing before finding Feucht on the left. After a touch, Feucht played it in to DePuy, who turned to his left and ripped a shot into the upper right corner for his third of the year.
Partee was the lone reason UCSB wasn’t able to crack the scoresheet in the first half, coming up with two huge saves in quick succession.
The Gauchos will look to close their three-game homestand on a high note on Saturday, as they host the Cal Golden Bears at 7:05 p.m.