Ignacio Tellechea, UCSB
UCSB’s Ignacio Tellechea fights off (15) Marte Formico Jacob Rudolph of UC Davis to maintain possession of the ball. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Entering a crucial stretch of conference play with just three games remaining, the UC Santa Barbara men’s soccer team came up with a big 1-0 shutout victory over UC Davis on Wednesday night to remain undefeated this season at home.

UCSB (8-6-1, 2-2-1 Big West) is now 7-0 at Harder Stadium and will play its final two conference matches at home as the Big West table tightens up down the stretch. Tied for seventh with UC Davis (8-4-3, 1-3-1 Big West) entering the night with just four points through the first four games, the Gauchos catapulted themselves into a three-way tie for third-place with the win.

From the get go, the UCSB offense looked dangerous as Noah Billingsley fired a shot off the post just a minute and a half into the match and the Gauchos created multiple corner kicks early.

“I thought it was an excellent team effort,” said acting head coach Gregg Wilson, who was serving as head coach due to the one-game suspension of  Tim Vom Steeg as a result of two yellow cards against UC Irvine. “We had a really good week in training, really good preparation yesterday and we were very, very good all night. The thing we were really focused on was our balance defensively and making sure we didn’t give them too many opportunities coming the other way.”

The Gauchos did just that, limiting UC Davis to just three shots all night and only one on target that freshman keeper Ben Roach corralled in the 14th minute.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but @UCSBMensSoccer both in a 1-0 win over #UCDavis.

Thibault Candia (26′) the goal as the Gauchos dominate 12-3 shots (7-1 SOG).#UCSB (2-2-1) host #CSUN Saturday, 7pm PT.#GauchoPride | #PlayBig pic.twitter.com/CyIsrJt3JT

— Big West M-Soccer (@BigWestMSOC) October 18, 2018

In the 26th minute, UCSB broke through with the game-winner after Thibault Candia chipped in his first of the year. The junior forward found himself along the end line trying to cross the ball back into play when it deflected off the defender’s heel and spun into the corner of the net.

That was all the offense the Gauchos would need as they collected their fourth shutout of the year and second straight 1-0 result at home.

Rodney Michael led UCSB with four shots, including three on target, while Ignacio Tellechea, Billingsley and Candia tallied two apiece.

This Saturday, Oct. 20 will be another critical match for UCSB as it takes on CSUN (8-6-1, 2-2-1 Big West) at 7:00 p.m.