The UC Santa Barbara men’s soccer team earned a lead, fell behind, and fought back again to prevail 3-2 over the Oregon State Beavers at Paul Lorenz Field on Sunday night.

Similar to the Gauchos’ (3-2-0) match against Gonzaga on Thursday night, a lackluster first half yielded a 0-0 result as neither team could find their rhythm.

It wasn’t until the second half that the game picked up, with the Gauchos scoring first in the 50th minute. Freshman attacking midfielder Finn Ballard McBride, who made his starting debut in the match, picked up the ball at midfield and ran towards the defense, where he drew coverage and passed it to junior left winger Ameyawu Muntari who buried his chance for his first UCSB goal.

No less than two minutes later, Oregon State (3-3-0) equalized through Deniel Arnaud.

A spell of Beaver dominance followed, and the hosts went ahead in the 64th minute with Steffan Yeates’ shot finding its way over the Gaucho goal line to make the score 2-1.

With the short lead having evaporated, the Gauchos pushed back, eventually finding an answer in the 72nd minute.

Senior striker Will Baynham played the ball out wide to Muntari, who dribbled around his man and pulled the ball back into the box for Ballard McBride to thump into the back of the net for what was his first career score for the Gauchos.

“In what was his first start for us, Finn [Ballard McBride] did more than just get a goal and assist, but he also gave us a big attacking presence next to Will [Baynham]. That’s something we haven’t had this season and it made Will a better player,” head coach Tim Vom Steeg said of the freshman’s performance.

The comeback was on, and a short 12 minutes later, it was complete.

The ball was played into the box and brought down by Baynham on his chest, which he laid off to senior left winger Thibault Candia. The Frenchman produced a moment of quality with his effort from 16 yards out, hitting the inside of the net to complete the Gauchos’ Cascadian road trip with two wins out of two matches.

“I was able to move Finn into a midfield position in the attacking role. Thibault [Candia] moved further up on the left-hand side, so I could do more of a rotation with my forwards. That created a big change tonight and it sparked our offense.”

Sophomore goalkeeper Ben Roach made four saves in the match for the Gauchos, earning his third win of the season.

“It’s interesting because he made three really big saves throughout, but something to note is that he’d love to have that second goal [that he gave up to OSU’s Steffan Yeates] back. He had to rebound from that and continue to be a big presence throughout the rest of the match, which he did very well,” remarked Vom Steeg of Roach’s match.

Earlier this week, Oregon State was receiving votes in the United Soccer Coaches poll. The Gauchos had lost both previous encounters against teams who were receiving votes or ranked in any poll, falling 3-1 to No. 16 Virginia Tech and 3-0 to Cal.

“It was our best game of the season against a quality opponent. There’s no way you can quantify [how big it is] beating Oregon State at Oregon State. But doing it the way we did it, which was by actually scoring goals- that’s the best offensive output of the year, and we came back from being down 2-1 on the road. As a team, we benefitted from being on the road and not having distractions. I thought we had a good gameplan and the team followed it well. We didn’t play mistake-free soccer, but we stayed after it and believed in what we were doing tonight,” added Vom Steeg.

UCSB returns home for matchups with Seattle and UMBC this week. The Redhawks visit on Thursday night, while the Retrievers arrive on Sunday. Both games are scheduled to kick off at 7 PM.

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