Dan Kennedy explained how the UCSB soccer team went from No. 156 in the national rankings during his freshman year to No. 1 in 2004, when he was a senior and an All-American goalkeeper: “It was a lot of hard work.”
The work ethic of the Gauchos remained strong Friday night in a resounding 3-0 victory over Indiana before a regular-season record crowd of 10,114 at Harder Stadium.
Indiana (5-3-1) came into the match with a No. 9 ranking, while the Gauchos (7-2-1) were ranked No. 11, but they rose to the occasion for the second time on the Fox Soccer Network’s “Game of the Week.” Last month, the Gauchos whipped Rutgers 4-0 in another nationally televised Friday night match.
“When we play with the energy we did tonight,” UCSB coach Tom Vom Steeg said, “we can beat anybody.”
Danny Barrera, Machael David and Michael Nonni scored the goals, as the Gauchos beat the Hoosiers for the second consecutive time. Last year, they won 2-1 at Indiana.
It was a gratifying night for the 2004 Gauchos (including Kennedy, Drew McAthy, Matt Bly, Nate Boyden, Jonathan Davis, Jon Apilado, Neil Jones, Myles Davis, Brennan Tennelle and Chris Hughes) who attended the match and were honored at halftime. They suffered a painful defeat to Indiana in the NCAA championship game five years ago the Hoosiers prevailed in a penalty-kick shootout after a 1-1 tie but they are recognized as the team that propelled UCSB into the ranks of college soccer’s elite.
Friday night’s attendance was exceeded only by 11,214 who saw the Gauchos defeat Virginia Commonwealth in a 2004 NCAA quarterfinal match. The largest crowd to attend a regular-season match at Harder Stadium had been 9,749 at the Cal Poly-UCSB game last season.
The Gauchos came out tentative against Indiana, which had several early scoring chances, but once they found their rhythm, they punished the Hoosiers with their superior speed and ball control.
“I wasn’t worried about us,” Vom Steeg said. “We had some great practices this week. I knew we’d play hard, be active, be around the ball. We found guys [open] all over the place tonight.”
In the 38th minute, Michael Tetteh dashed up the left sideline and centered the ball to Barrera, who volleyed the ball into the upper right corner of the goal. Indiana almost got the equalizer in the last second of the half on a breakaway by Will Bruin, but Gaucho goalkeeper Sam Hayden stood his ground and knocked the shot away. Hayden had six saves.
David, splitting the defense on a well-timed run, went on-on-one against Indiana goalie Luis Soffner early in the second half, and it was no contest. Using a move he called “the African scoop,” David deftly pushed the ball past the lunging Soffner and flicked it into a wide-open net. It was the redshirt freshman’s first goal as a Gaucho. “I was looking for that to get my confidence back,” said David, a native of Nigeria
“David was all over the field,” Vom Steeg said. “This was a break-out game for him.”
Nonni, a true freshman, make it 3-0 when he redirected Barrera’s long crossing ball past the Hoosier goalie. By then, there were no more tortillas to be thrown by the UCSB student fans who thronged into the west side of the stadium.
The Gauchos out-shot Indiana, 14-11, but that statistic did not reflect how completely they dominated the game against the seven-time national champions.
“They beat us fair and square,” said Bruin, Indiana’s leading scorer. “We had to travel, but there are no excuses. They pressed us and took over with their numbers in the midfield.”
The Gaucho men return to action at Harder Stadium on Wednesday night (Oct. 7), with a 7 p.m. start against Cal Poly.