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    UC Santa Barbara Men’s Soccer Blank Cal Poly, Vom Steeg Earns 300th Win

    The UC Santa Barbara Men’s Soccer team delivered their most complete performance of the season and a milestone victory for their head coach on Saturday night. With his team’s dominant 2-0 win over Cal Poly, Tim Vom Steeg earned his 300th win as an NCAA head coach. All 300 victories have come at UC Santa Barbara.

    On reaching 300 wins:
    “Well, I stole the line from Kenny Preston, he said ‘it means I’ve been around a long time,’ so I guess I’ve been around a long time,” Vom Steeg said, chuckling. “You know, that’s a huge milestone, but it was really special tonight because of the way we played. And then to do it against Cal Poly, to have a crowd like this, the fact it’s 300, nothing against losing the other night in Riverside, but I was driving home going ‘you know, if I’m going to win 300, it might as well be against Cal Poly at home.”

    On the team’s performance: “Overall, I go through the performances, you know, Leroy (Zeller) finally gave us the performance that we were used to seeing all last year, he made the one big save, our back three, it was great to have Johannes (Vedin) finally back, Caden (Vom Steeg) is finally back, so our defense should start being better now,” Vom Steeg said. “(Alexis Ledoux) came up to me after the last game and said ‘I know I can play a lot better, I’m going to play better for you,’ but you also realize that we’re missing Nemo (Philipp) and Lucas (Gonzalez), so he is the guy for us. We put him in a really good spot on this field, where they had to match him up, and the poor kid just couldn’t stay with him, it was left, right, it was inside, it was all over the place, but at the same time I thought that Nico (Willumsen) had a breakout game tonight. Held onto a lot of balls for us, we were able to play through him.”

    The Gauchos were in control from start to finish on Saturday night, and they thought they had the first goal of the evening when Nicolas Willumsen pounced on a loose ball in the six-yard box and fired it home, but the referee blew his whistle for a foul committed by Willumsen. However, the Dane would get his goal, and it would not take long. In the 18th minute, Alexis Ledoux torched his defender to get to the endline, then lobbed a cross back into the penalty area. Jorge Aldana met it with a stooping header, playing the ball perfectly to Willumsen, who just had to put boot to ball from close range to put the home side in front.

    Under their first-year head coach, the Mustangs brought a new look to Harder Stadium, running and pressing the Gauchos endlessly, but Santa Barbara’s players remained composed, preventing any mistakes that might allow their opponents back in the game. The Gauchos led 1-0 at halftime and Cal Poly had yet to even put a shot on target. They still hadn’t when Nalu Mack doubled the home side’s advantage in the second half.

    After Ledoux cut inside onto his right foot and fired a shot which forced a save from the Mustangs’ goalkeeper, the Frenchman served the resulting corner kick into the penalty area beautifully. Cal Poly’s keeper tried to punch it clear, but only launched the ball into Mack’s chest, watching it bounce back into the net. Mack got the goal and the Gauchos doubled their lead.

    Up 2-0 in front of a raucous move-in weekend crowd, all UC Santa Barbara had to do was hold on to their advantage. They did, and goalkeeper Leroy Zeller made sure he got his first clean sheet of the season. The German only had to make three saves, but his stop in the 58th was one to be proud of. After a through ball sent a Mustang runner in on goal, Zeller raced off his line, meeting the striker nearly at the edge of the penalty area and getting down well to block the shot.

    Zeller made another decent stop in the 65th, diving down to his right and catching a shot that was headed toward the back post. His final save of the night was a simple catch on a long-range shot in the 71st minute. From there, the Gauchos kept their composure and saw out the win, extending their unbeaten run to eight straight matches against Cal Poly.

    UC Santa Barbara will hit the road to open Big West play in their next match, a midweek contest at UC San Diego on Wednesday, September 27 in La Jolla. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from Triton Soccer Stadium, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN+. Live stats will also be available through ucsbgauchos.com.



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