UC Santa Barbara was stunned by a controversial finish to regulation time before having its heart broken by 7th-ranked UCLA in overtime on Saturday night in a match-up of national top-20 men’s soccer team before 4,100 fans at Harder Stadium.
The No. 13 Gauchos suffered a 2-1 defeat after Jackson Yueill ran onto a through ball from former Dunn School and Santa Barbara Soccer Club star Abu Danladi and beat goalkeeper Titouan Le Roux one on one in the 7th minute of the first overtime.
The fact the game went to overtime had fans Gaucho fans scratching their heads and UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg shaking his head in disbelief.
The Gauchos were leading 1-0 as UCLA pressed to get a tying goal. With the clock winding down, the Bruins crossed the ball at the top of the box and a foul was called on UCSB. The time ran out on the scoreboard but referee Miguel Chicas ordered that five seconds be put back on the clock after the Gauchos apparently kicked the ball away as the Bruins were lining up for a free kick.
Brian Iloski made the extra seconds count as he hit a left-footed blast over the Gaucho wall, skimming it off the bottom of the cross bar and through the hands of LeRoux for the game-tying goal.
UCLA rode the momentum of the game-saving goal into overtime and Yueill delivered the game-winner, pinging his shot off the far post and into the goal.
“To be honest with you, it’s hard to come back in overtime,” UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “Around the world, we don’t play overtime. You simply go down as a tie. We were spent. We worked really hard.”
Said UCLA coach Jorge Salcedo: “We just needed to regain composure and our game-winning goal was just that, a very good run and a good finish.”
On the decision of the referee to stop the clock and restore seconds at the end of regulation, Salcedo said it was the official’s prerogative to stop it after the ball was kicked away.
“To the referee’s defense, I think the player kicked the ball away. If there is yellow card caution, then the referee stops the clock. It was clear there was no caution on the play but he maybe stopped it for time wasting,” said Salcedo.
Vom Steeg questioned the decision, saying it didn’t follow the laws of the game.
“No one could really explain why the clock stopped,” he said. “I assumed it was because he gave a card. When he didn’t give the card, I obviously became very unhappy. In the laws of the game, that’s when you stop the clock. I’m not arguing whether it was a foul or not a foul, or judgment, I’m simply saying, ‘Where are the laws of the game? The laws of the game say we don’t stop the clock every time there is a foul or something happens.”
The frustrating defeat spoiled a terrific effort by UCSB (4-3-0). Kevin Feucht gave the Gauchos a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute off the work of Noah Billingsley and Ahinga Selemani. They made it stand up by pressuring UCLA’s back line, shutting down Danladi and getting solid play from center backs Daniel Amo and Jeff Quezada.
“I thought we did all the right things,” Vom Steeg said. “I thought it was one of our better games in terms of how hard this team played to win this game.”
That was another disappointment of Vom Steeg’s, that his team wasn’t rewarded with a victory.
“As I said to the guys in the locker room, I’d rather be disappointed on September 17 rather than November 17, because on November 17 your season is over,” he said. “We’ll be disappointed tonight. I thought we did all the right things out there. From that perspective, that’s the thing we have to hang our hat on.”