The UC Santa Barbara men’s soccer team picked up its eighth clean sheet of the season with a scoreless draw with Cal State Northridge on Saturday evening at Matador Soccer Field.
The Gauchos are now unbeaten against CSUN in their last seven regular season meetings and remain without a loss on the road in the team’s seven away matches this season.
Senior centerback Faouzi Taieb and senior outside back Mateo Restrepo Mejia returned to the starting 11 from injury and senior defensive midfielder Sahid Conteh from suspension,as the Gauchos were able to play a possession-heavy style throughout the match, controlling the ball for 58% of the match.
Their best scoring chance in regulation came in the 50th minute, as senior striker Will Baynham brought down a bouncing ball in midfield from a clearance and was able to outpace his marker to create a one-on-one opportunity against CSUN goalkeeper David Preys. Preys came up big to prevent the Australian from putting UCSB ahead.
In the 85th minute, CSUN created a chance from wide play as defensive midfielder Giovanni Aguilar delivered a cross to the left side of the Gaucho penalty area that midfielder Julio Rubio kicked back into the six-yard box.
Once again, Gaucho sophomore goalkeeper Roach came to the rescue, making the save on attacker Wolfgang Prentice’s close-range effort to keep the game scoreless.
The save was one of Roach’s four on the night, following up his season-high nine save performance at UC Davis last week.
Santa Barbara also had the best chance of either overtime period in the 99th minute, when senior right wingback Noah Billingsley put a curled shot on frame from the left side of the top of the CSUN 18-yard box. But the shot was turned around the far post by the Matadors’ stand-in goalkeeper Paul Lewis, who entered the match after Preys injured himself on a goal kick.
Just as it seemed like UCSB was getting a reprieve from its injury woes, the Gauchos lost both Restrepo Mejia and junior right winger Ameyawu Muntari in the match. Neither player returned to the game.
The Gauchos will need help next Saturday if they are to claim a share of the Big West regular season title. With UC Irvine and UC Davis both winning, they share the top spot with 13 points, two ahead of UCSB’s 11. Cal Poly is in fourth place with nine points.
In terms of seeding for the Big West Tournament, the Gauchos could end up with any seed from first to fourth, with no possibility of falling to the fifth seed because of UCSB’s tiebreaker over Sacramento State.
If the Big West Tournament began today, the Gauchos would be the third seed hosting Cal State Fullerton in the first round.
UCSB heads into its final match of the Big West season at Cal Poly on Saturday night in San Luis Obispo.