San Marcos celebrates key victory over rival Santa Barbara. | Credit: Courtesy

For many years the Channel League title in boys soccer has gone through Santa Barbara High, but San Marcos flipped the script with a 2-1 victory over the Dons to take over first place with two matches remaining, on Thursday night at Warkentin Stadium. 

Senior Forward Cade McLean produced the go ahead goal in the 59th minute with a header into the goal off a pass into the box by Miguel Mondragon, who received the ball off a corner kick. 

McLean returned to soccer after a two-year hiatus for his senior season and was excited to come through for San Marcos when it mattered most.

“Miguel has a great left foot to whip it in and I was there in the right place at the right time,” McLean said. “Coming back after two years of not playing, getting on the field and working with these boys feels amazing.”

The two teams tied 2-2 in their first encounter this season and both remained unbeaten in Channel League play raising the stakes for the rematch.

Santa Barbara got on the board first in the 13th minute when Sebastian Alvarez got his right foot to a perfectly lofted free kick by Luis Jeronimo. 

The Royals responded late in the first half when Jared Vom Steeg unleashed a left-footed blast from 25-yards out that beat the Santa Barbara goalkeeper and instantly shifted the momentum of the match.

“My brother (Caden Vom Steeg) flicked it on to me  and I saw a lot of space. Their center backs kept dropping and I just kept taking my touches. We’ve been emphasizing all week in practice to shoot the ball outside. We knew that the goal keeper was a little smaller so we could take farther shots,” Vom Steeg said. “I set myself with my left and hit it really well. It was perfect.”

Both Vom Steeg twins are committed to play for their father Tim Vom Steeg, who is the head coach at UCSB, next season. 

Santa Barbara had several golden opportunities at goals in the second half, but failed to capitalize. Alvarez sent a free kick off the crossbar and straight down in the 53rd minute. The ball appeared to cross the goal line, but it was quickly snagged by the San Marcos goalkeeper and no goal was awarded. 

In the 70th minute, Santa Barbara forward Cason Goodman broke free and chipped the ball over the San Marcos goalkeeper towards an empty net, but the ball narrowly sailed over the crossbar. 

San Marcos (9-0-1 overall, 7-0-1 Channel League) will close the regular season against Santa Ynez and Dos Pueblos next week. Santa Barbara (8-2-1, 6-1-1) will host Cabrillo and Lompoc.

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