UCSB’s “Soccer Heaven” was “Soccer Purgatory” for 72 minutes Wednesday night (Nov. 10), as the Gauchos trailed Cal Poly 1-0 with time running out in their Big West Tournament semifinal match. “I could see my season and my life flash before my eyes,” said Machael David, a Gaucho standout who had to sweat out the game on the bench.

David Opoku came to the rescue. UCSB’s freshman forward took a pass from Michael Tetteh, split two defenders, dribbled around charging Cal Poly goalkeeper Patrick McLain, and planted the ball in the net. Opoku’s sixth goal of the year sent the game into overtime, and UCSB won 2-1 on Nic Ryan’s golden goal in the eighth minute of the extra period.

Not only did the Gauchos avoid a defeat that would have put their NCAA playoff hopes in grave jeopardy, but now they find themselves holding the cards to earn an automatic berth. They will host the Big West championship game at 7 p.m. Saturday against Cal State Fullerton, which stunned top-seeded UC Irvine 2-1 in the other semifinal.

“We’re pretty excited about that,” UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “There’s very little love lost [between the Gauchos and Irvine].”

There was mutual respect between the Gauchos and Cal Poly’s Mustangs, who played three 2-1 games this year, all three coming down to dramatic finishes. In seven previous overtime matches this season, UCSB was just 1-3-3 – one of the defeats administered by Cal Poly two weeks ago.

But while they had faded in San Luis Obispo, the Gauchos played with energy and resolve in the second half Wednesday before 4,084 fans at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. They outshot the Mustangs 7-2 in the last 45 minutes of regulation and 3-1 in overtime.

Josue Madueno triggered the winning play. He controlled a ball in the right corner and passed to Opoku at the top of the penalty area. Opoku slid a pass to Ryan, who juked a defender and beat the goalie from five yards out. “It was definitely the biggest, most exciting goal of my career,” said Ryan, a 5’6”, 130-pound sophomore from San Jose. “We knew we had to win to keep our season going.”

Vom Steeg was prescient in his personnel choices. Madueno started in place of David, who had to sit because he received five yellow cards in previous matches, and Ryan was substituted for Peter McGlynn late in the first overtime period. Less than a minute later, he scored.

UCSB split a pair of matches with Cal State Fullerton during the regular season, losing 1-0 on the road in overtime and beating the Titans 3-0 at home a week later.

In high school action, Dos Pueblos and Santa Barbara travel tonight (Thu., Nov. 11) for the second round of the CIF Division 1-AA girls volleyball playoffs. They swept their opening-round matches, but the road ahead is rougher, especially for the Dons, who will face second-seeded Long Beach Poly. Dos Pueblos visits Huntington Beach. The Chargers opened the Division 1 boys water polo playoffs Wednesday with an 18-5 victory over San Clemente. They will face Newport Harbor on the road Friday.

San Marcos High concluded its football season in a 41-6 loss to Buena on Wednesday night. Three local teams are playoff-bound – Dos Pueblos, which plays Ventura for the Channel League championship tonight; and Bishop Diego and Carpinteria, who will square off Friday night at Carpinteria.

Thursday, November 11

High school girls tennis – CIF playoffs, first round: Great Oak at Santa Barbara, 2 p.m.; San Marcos at Beverly Hills, 2 p.m.; Dos Pueblos at San Marino, 2 p.m.; Cabrillo at Cate, 2 p.m.

High school football – Dos Pueblos at Ventura, 7 p.m.

High school girls volleyball – CIF playoffs, second round: Dos Pueblos at Huntington Beach, 7 p.m.; Santa Barbara at Long Beach Poly, 7 p.m.

Friday, November 12

College men’s soccer –SBCC at Hancock, 1 p.m.

High school boys water polo – CIF quarterfinals: Dos Pueblos at Newport Harbor, 3:15 p.m.

College men’s basketball – UCSB vs. Denver at Eugene, Ore., 4:30 p.m.; Westmont at Northwest (Wash.), 7 p.m.

College women’s basketball – Corban (Ore.) at Westmont, 5:30 p.m.; UCSB at Pepperdine, 6 p.m.

High school football – Bishop Diego at Carpinteria, 7:30 p.m. CIF 8-man playoffs: Laguna Blanca vs. Capistrano Valley Christian at San Clemente, 7 p.m.

College women’s soccer – Ventura at SBCC, 7 p.m.

College women’s volleyball – UC Davis at UCSB, 7 p.m.

Saturday, November 13

College swimming – Cal Poly at UCSB, 12 p.m.

High school football – CIF 8-man playoffs: Pacific Lutheran at Cate, 1:30 p.m.

College women’s basketball – Sequoias at SBCC, 5 p.m.; Bethany at Westmont, 6 p.m.

College men’s basketball – UCSB vs. North Dakota State at Eugene, Ore., 6 p.m.; Westmont at Evergreen State (Wash.), 7:30 p.m.

College men’s soccer – Big West championship: Cal State Fullerton at UCSB, 7 p.m.

College women’s volleyball – Pacific at UCSB, 7 p.m.

High school girls volleyball – CIF quarterfinals.

Sunday, November 14

College men’s water polo – UCLA at UCSB, 1 p.m.

College women’s basketball – UCSB at UCLA, 2 p.m.

College men’s basketball – UCSB at Oregon, 6 p.m.

Monday, November 15

Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon, Harry’s Plaza Café, 12 p.m.

Tuesday, November 16

High school girls volleyball – CIF semifinals.

Wednesday, November 17

High school boys water polo – CIF semifinals at Irvine’s William Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center, 7 p.m..

Thursday, November 18

College women’s basketball – Portland State at UCSB, 1 p.m.; MXTE Tournament: San Diego Mesa at SBCC, 7 p.m.

Friday, November 19

College women’s basketball – MTXE Tournament at SBCC, 3-7 p.m.

High school football – CIF playoffs, first round.

High school girls volleyball – CIF finals at Cypress College.

Saturday, November 20

College men’s water polo – Pepperdine at UCSB, 1 p.m.

College women’s basketball – Idaho at UCSB, 2 p.m.; MTXE Tournament at SBCC, 3-7 p.m.

College men’s basketball – Fresno State at UCSB, 7 p.m.; CSU San Bernardino at Westmont, 7 p.m.

Monday, November 22

Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon, Harry’s Plaza Café, 12 p.m.

College women’s basketball – Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) at Westmont, 7 p.m.


Saturday, November 20 – UCSB Recreation Turkey Trot, 5K-10K walk/run, UCen lawn, 8:30 a.m.

Thursday, November 25 – Thanksgiving 4 Miler, Magnolia Shopping Center, 9 a.m.

Saturday, November 27 – Red Rock 40-Mile Trail Run, Los Padres National Forest Red Rock day use area, 6 a.m.


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