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    UC Santa Barbara’s Willumsen, Villeda and Defense Earn Men’s Soccer First Road Win of Season

    The UC Santa Barbara Men’s Soccer team earned three big points in The Big West standings on Wednesday night, defeating UC Davis, 2-1, to earn their first conference win of the season and first road win since last October. The Gauchos put together a complete performance, defending solidly for a full 90 minutes and taking their chances in attack, with goals from Nicolas Willumsen and Eddie Villeda. Freshman Kavi Krishnan tallied his first career assist on the opener, setting up Willumsen.


    “We finally put together two halves on the road,” Vom Steeg said. “This is a big win for us.”


    The Gauchos were defending more often than not in the first half, as UC Davis controlled the majority of the possession and did so largely on UC Santa Barbara’s side of the field. But the Gaucho defense was staunch and kept the Aggie attackers from getting good looks to shoot or getting any look at all. The hosts managed three shots on target in the first 45 minutes, all of which Leroy Zeller saved without much difficulty. The only issue was that the Gauchos had zero shots on target in the first half, and so the teams went into the locker rooms in a scoreless tie.

    That would change in the second half, with UC Santa Barbara striking seven minutes in, creating a goal basically from thin air. Filip Basili played a long ball out to Krishnan on the left wing, who ran at his defender, beat him to the end line and cut a pass back into the penalty area. Mikkel Goeling did well to let the ball run through his legs, as Willumsen was waiting at the penalty spot. Willumsen smashed it home from close range, and the Gauchos had the lead.

    The Aggies leveled the match on a thunderous free kick from 24 yards out in the 60th minute, but while the hosts still controlled a majority of the ball, the Gauchos stayed in the match. After being out-shot, 5-1, in the first half, UC Santa Barbara out-shot the Aggies in the second, and in the 75th minute, another one of those shots found the back of the net.

    Basili started the move again, sparking a counterattack after regaining possession in the midfield. The Norwegian played ahead to Goeling, who knocked it back and forth with Willumsen before laying the ball off to Villeda. The Gauchos’ versatile wing back took two touches and then unleashed a left-footed rocket into the top corner from just outside the penalty area for his second goal of the year.

    With 15 minutes between them and three points, the Gauchos played lock-down defense for the final quarter of an hour, led by Zeller. The veteran goalkeeper caught every cross that even thought about coming near him, smothering the ball after every one to tick more seconds off the clock and slow the pace of the game. Then, using his tremendous leg strength, he consistently launched the ball 70-80 yards down field, forcing Davis to start their attack all over again. In front of Zeller, the Gaucho defenders and midfielders were playing excellently too, shepherding Aggies into wide areas of the field, cutting passing lanes, and generally doing everything in their power to deny even half a chance for the home team to score. They were rewarded with the final whistle and all three points.


    UC Santa Barbara returns home for their next two matches. Up first is a rematch of last year’s Big West Championship Match, as the Gauchos host UC Riverside on Saturday, October 7 at Harder Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., and the match will be live on ESPN+ with live stats available through ucsbgauchos.com.



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