In front of a sellout crowd of 11,075, the largest crowd in the NCAA this season and 14th largest in NCAA history, the UC Santa Barbara men’s soccer team fell 1-0 to Cal Poly in the kick-off of the Blue-Green Rivalry at Alex G. Spanos Stadium on Sunday evening.
With the loss, the Gauchos fall to 6-4 overall, with all four losses coming on the road, while the Mustangs improve to 4-4-1 after a win in the designated non-conference matchup. UCSB had won four of its last five entering the night, but have gone just 2-6-1 against Cal Poly on the road since 2010 and just 5-7-5 overall during the same stretch. The Gauchos, however, have dominated the all-time series, 46-20-10.
It was a relatively quiet first half that saw the teams go back-and-forth, with UCSB outshooting Cal Poly 4-3. In the second half, it was the Mustangs who would find the back of the net in the 64th minute after Diego Alonso’s shot from 25 yards out on the right side was deflected and snuck in the goal.
The Gauchos continued to press on the offensive end and nearly had an equalizer opportunity after it appeared Noah Billingsley was taken down in the box in the 72nd minute. It was ruled a free-kick just inches outside of the 18-yard box and an ensuing Axel Mendez free kick was blocked to end the threat.
In the 90th minute, UCSB had another close call after Ignacio Tellechea sent a ball from midfield into the six-yard box between the Cal Poly keeper and Faouzi Taieb. The standout Gaucho defender made a play on the ball but it bounced up and over the crossbar, falling just short of the tying goal.
Also in the 90th minute, a pair of red cards would be handed out to UCSB’s Ben Roach and Cal Poly’s Jarred Pressley, but with just 20 seconds left on the clock the Mustangs held on for the win.
The Gauchos outshot Cal Poly 12-8 while the Mustangs held a 6-4 advantage in corner kicks. In a match that saw a total of 10 cards handed out, Cal Poly had 20 fouls to the Gauchos’ 14. Mendez, Rodney Michael and Sahid Conteh tallied two shots apiece to lead UCSB while Pressley finished with a game-high three shots for the Mustangs. Roach recorded four saves in goal.
UCSB officially begins conference play this Wednesday, Oct. 3 at Sacramento State at 4:00 p.m.