UCSB put on another display of artistry in the first half of Wednesday’s soccer game against Cal Poly, but there was just one finishing stroke, when Luis Silva put a shot into the back of the net in the 30th minute. That was enough, as the seventh-ranked Gauchos won 1-0. They are 2-0 in the Big West and 8-2-1 overall, while Cal Poly (2-1, 4-7) suffered its first conference defeat.
The ever-dangerous Michael Tetteh got the assist on the goal after pulling two Poly defenders toward him. “I looked up and saw Silva open, so I crossed it over to him,” Tetteh said. Silva took the pass at the top of the penalty box and sent a clean shot inside the left goalpost.
The traditional tossing of tortillas by UCSB’s student fans did not sit well with referee Jesse Johnson, who halted play and threatened to suspend the game until the offending corn and flour discs were removed from the field. UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg blamed the Big West office for the crackdown. “The league should be saying they want 6,000 people to show up and have fun,” Vom Steeg said. “When you have an energized crowd, you get tortillas.”
With a Wednesday night turnout of 5,842 at Harder Stadium - after 10,114 showed up Friday to watch the Gauchos throttle Indiana 3-0 - UCSB is on pace to lead the nation in soccer attendance again.
The Gauchos missed 13 other shots in the first half but were unable to pad their lead. That left it up to goalkeeper Sam Hayden and the defense to hold firm in the second half, when Cal Poly went on the attack. Hayden had five saves while posting his sixth shutout of the season.
There was a confrontation in front of the Gaucho goal when Hayden smothered a free kick on the short hop and took a blow from Cal Poly forward David Zamora. UCSB defender Martin Hedevag shoved Zamora, and Cal Poly’s Patrick Sigler got into the fray. Yellow cards were issued to Hedevag and Sigler.
The victory was Vom Steeg’s 127th since the Gauchos rejoined the Big West in soccer, moving him past San Jose State’s Jose Elgorriaga as the winningest coach in the conference. Since he took over in 1999, Vom Steeg’s teams have never lost to Cal Poly at home.
The Gaucho men will hit the road for their next three games - at UC Riverside (Oct. 10, 7 p.m.), UC Davis (Oct. 14, 3 p.m.), and Cal State Northridge (Oct. 17, 3 p.m.). All remaining games, home and away, will be broadcast on KIST 1490 AM and KCSB 91.9 FM.