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Big second half lifts Gauchos to first win on the young soccer season

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UCSB scores 3 second half goals to get first win on the young season.

UC SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Three players scored their first goals for UC Santa Barbara Men's Soccer and the Gauchos (1-1) came back from a second-half deficit to claim their first win of the season, 4-2, over Pacific (1-1) at Harder Stadium Monday night. Kenny Villatoro's 75th minute strike proved to be the match winner.

"It was a good bounce back game for us, and it was even a double bounce-back in a way because we went down in the second half, Vom Steeg said. "We did a lot of running in the first half, I thought the players that we played in the first half gave me a lot of good minutes, and I thought (Pacific) got tired, so after we scored that tying goal, they were just tired and that opened everything up for us. The last 20 minutes was all us. This is a great result, and now we have a really hard game in Portland, but we'll take this win."

The Gauchos were dominant in the first half of Monday night's match, allowing just one shot, which sailed wide of the goal. On the other end, Santa Barbara fired seven shots in the first 45 minutes as they controlled possession. Eddie Villeda broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute, arriving at the back post to meet Nemo Philipp's cross and knock it home. Alexis Ledoux nearly doubled the Gauchos' advantage in the 38th minute, watching his attempted cross inch toward the back post and bounce off the woodwork.

Pacific came out of halftime having clearly gotten a wake-up call and the momentum swung in the visitors' favor. The Tigers equalized in the 51st minute thanks to a long pass out of the back creating a breakaway, then took the lead in the 62nd minute.

However, the Gauchos did not capitulate and instead began to seize the momentum back. A bad foul in the 70th minute gave Santa Barbara a free kick 30 yards from goal, and Lucas Gonzalez floated a pass into the box, which Haruki Utsumi got his foot too and poked past the Pacific goalkeeper to tie the match. Five minutes later, David Danquah found Villatoro wide open on the right wing, and Villatoro fired a shot across the box, which ricocheted off a Pacific defender and into the net to give Santa Barbara their lead back.

The Gauchos held nearly complete control of the match from that point on, and it was Danquah making things happen again in the 77th minute, as the Ghanaian was brought down in the penalty area, earning a spot kick for Santa Barbara. Team captain Lucas Gonzalez stepped up and buried it low to his left to ice the game. The Gauchos could have even had five; before the penalty, Philipp forced a great save from the Pacific goalkeeper.

UC Santa Barbara hits the road next, taking on one of their toughest tests of the season — a trip to face No. 13 Portland in the Rose City on Friday, September 1. The Gauchos and Pilots will kick off from Merlo Field at 7 p.m. The match will be broadcast on ESPN+ and live stats will be available on

(Article courtesy of UCSB Athletics)

Article Topic Follows: College Sports

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Mike Klan

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