The highly anticipated matchup between two of the nation’s top college soccer teams turned out to be as one-sided as the recent football clash between USC and Ohio State.
Wake Forest came to Santa Barbara with the nation’s No. 1 ranking and convinced 7,408 spectators that it was utterly deserving Sunday night. The Demon Deacons swamped UCSB’s Gauchos 6-2 at Harder Stadium.
The Gauchos made a game of it for a half, taking a 1-0 lead on Nick Perera’s goal off an assist from Bryan Dominguez two minutes into the game. They held off Wake Forest until the final minute of the period, when Corben Bone slammed a pinpoint pass from Marcus Tracy past UCSB goalkeeper Trond Helge Tasket.
A second-half bombardment by the visitors made it 5-1 before UCSB senior Chris Pontius earned a free kick at the top of the box and looped it over the wall and into the net. Wake Forest (6-0) had given up only one goal in its first five games. But the Gauchos’ ability to score was erased by their futile defensive effort.
Wake Forest’s six goals scored by six different players were the most ever given up by the Gauchos in Tim Vom Steeg’s 10 seasons as their coach. It was also UCSB’s worst home loss in his tenure.
The Demon Deacons controlled the midfield, swallowing up every errant or too-soft pass by the Gauchos, and launching a series of swift, well-coordinated attacks. Tracy, a national player-of-the-year candidate, was ever dangerous. The senior forward got a second assist on a give-and-go with Sam Cronin for a 3-1 lead, and he finished off a counterattack that made it 4-1 after a Gaucho free kick from midfield was intercepted.
Tasket’s four saves in the first half kept UCSB in the game. The Gauchos had a chance to take a 2-0 lead when Luis Silva stole a pass and got off a shot inside the box, but it sailed too high. Silva was injured on the play and did not return.
UCSB (4-3) will play its next two games on the road against strong teams at Indiana next Saturday and at UCLA on Wednesday, October 1.
Vom Steeg’s teams have a history of bouncing back from early-season setbacks. The Gauchos suffered a 5-0 loss in a Big West match at Cal State Northridge in 2006 the year they won the national championship.
Santa Barbara’s Olympic gold medalists Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers share company with some of the most famed teams in beach volleyball after winning the AVP’s Manhattan Beach Open on Sunday. With their 21-16, 21-15 victory over Nick Lucena/Sean Scott, they joined the teams of Mike Dodd/Tim Hovland and Karch Kiraly/Kent Steffes as winners of three consecutive titles at the tournament known as the Wimbledon of beach volleyball.
Dalhausser/Rogers also collected $100,000, matching the sport’s largest winner’s check, and claimed the Crocs Cup, representing the AVP’s season-long championship. The duo won 11 of the 14 events they entered on the 2008 tour.