A strong opening push gave the UCSB men’s soccer team an early lead, but No. 5–ranked Stanford proved up to the challenge.
The Cardinal pulled ahead in the second half, and the Gauchos’ upset bid ended in a 2-1 loss on Saturday night at Harder Stadium.
“That’s probably the best first 20 minutes of any game we’ve ever had against a Stanford team,” said UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg. “We walked in two balls and got one goal. The disappointing thing is we go into halftime and instead of being up 2-0, it was 1-1.”
UCSB forward Salvador Aguilar has been on fire of late, and his production continued against Stanford.
A long ball in from Timon Windisch allowed Aguilar to run into space and out-position the Stanford defender, setting up a one-on-one opportunity with Stanford goalkeeper Matt Frank. Aguilar’s right-footed shot slid in between Frank’s legs and into goal for a spectacular finish in the third minute of play.
The Gauchos nearly increased their lead to 2-0 less than a minute later when Aguilar found himself on the end of another long ball, but his right-footed shot went directly into the arms of Frank.
The inability to build on the early lead with momentum on their side came back to haunt the Gauchos.
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Stanford evened the score and nullified the Gauchos’ strong start in the 16th minute with a left-footed shot by Jackson Kiil to the far post that found the back of the net. It was assisted by Keegan Tingey.
“I really felt that it was really important that we scored early to reply and that really allowed us to settle,” said Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn. “In a really exciting, really emotional game, I felt that our players showed unbelievable composure.”
The opening moments of the second half belonged to Stanford. After dominating the run of play, the Cardinal earned a corner kick in the 52nd minute. Stanford made the most of the set piece as Carlo Agostinelli sent a looping pass into the box that found the head of Keegan Hughes for the go-ahead goal.
The Gauchos dropped several balls into the box over the final four minutes of the game but came away empty. Rene Pacheco had the best opportunity in the 89th minute, but his right-footed shot was mishit and swallowed up by Frank.
“It’s going to be hard against Stanford; you’re never going to get more than eight or nine looks,” Vom Steeg said. “We got more looks tonight than we normally do.”
The Gauchos (5-2-2) open Big West conference play on Wednesday against UC San Diego at Harder Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.