#10 Lucas Gonzalez opened the scoring in the eighth minute against Oregon State. | Credit: JEFF LIANG

The UCSB men’s soccer team is making the most of a tough non-conference slate.

Coming off a 2-1 victory over No. 24-ranked Loyola Marymount on the road, the Gauchos found their stride on the Harder Stadium turf with a 3-1 victory over defending Pac 12 champion Oregon State on Friday night. 

“We have one of the hardest schedules I’ve put together in a long time,” said UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg. “Fortunately these games are at home, but we don’t have a lot of time to celebrate because Sunday (Utah Valley) is a good team.”

The Beavers controlled possession and stifled the UCSB offense early in the game with a high press, but the Gauchos came up with a game breaking counterattack against the run of play to set the tone of the game.

Nemo Philipp sent the ball ahead to Alexis Ledoux, who made a couple moves in the box before his shot attempt was deflected by the Oregon State goalkeeper to the feet of Lucas Gonzalez, who flicked it into goal with his left foot, giving the Gauchos a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute.

“The game plan was to counter and to counter we knew that we had to invite  the pressure a little bit to open up the space,” Vom Steeg said.  “It’s a situation tonight that we took advantage of the fact that offensively we can run three or four guys at you up the field and be dangerous.”

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UCSB built on its lead in the 23rd minute as Pablo Figuero sent a long ball to a streaking Lucas Gonzalez, who managed to stay onside and gather the ball before tapping through traffic to Finn Ballard McBride, who finished with his right foot.

“I saw that the back line was pretty high. I decided to check in and make the run in behind,” Gonzalez said. “Pablo played a beautiful ball and Finn, he always likes to run in behind and he knows that I like to slip the pass so he made the run and I was able to feed him.”

The Beavers pressure paid off in the 28th minute as a change of possession quickly turned into Ellis Spiker run into the box and a David Perez goal, cutting the UCSB lead to 2-1.

In the second half, Philipp gave UCSB some breathing room in the 66th minute with a left-footed shot that bent into goal from just outside the 18-yard box. The Gauchos remained poised when opportunities presented themselves and repeatedly flashed clinical finishing throughout the game.

UCSB will host Utah Valley on Sunday, September 11 beginning at 7 p.m.

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