Known as “the greatest rivalry in college soccer,” the Cal Poly-UC Santa Barbara Men’s Soccer game is the most anticipated game of the season for both fanbases. With the universities residing less than 100 miles from each other, thousands of spectators fill Spanos Stadium every year to cheer on their home team.
Since the rivalry began to develop in 2007, the Mustangs and the Gauchos have met on the field 25 times in regular season games and twice in the playoffs. Of those matches, Cal Poly holds eight wins while the Gauchos hold twelve. The teams have also tied seven times to round out a total of 27 games.
Only five of the last 24 meetings between the two teams have been decided by more than one goal. And while UC Santa Barbara carries the all-time series lead at 26-15-8, the Gauchos have won just two of their last eight matches against Cal Poly.
A clear home field advantage
The energy the Blue-Green Rivalry brings to Cal Poly’s campus is unmistakably felt by the fans and team alike. However, the idea of a home field advantage rings true for both Mustangs and Gauchos. Cal Poly has taken home 58.33 percent of victories in Alex G. Spanos Stadium while UC Santa Barbara has won 60 percent of matches played at Harder Stadium.
Men’s Soccer head coach Steve Sampson accredits the Mustangs’ success at home to the spirit of the rivalry.
“I know that since I’ve been here, especially at home, we’ve had fairly good results against Santa Barbara,” Sampson said. “So I think because of the atmosphere, because of the significance of the game, extra effort goes into getting a result.”
Beyond the ambiance that a Blue-Green rivalry game brings, both teams are used to playing in contrasting circumstances, according to UC Santa Barbara Men’s Soccer head coach Tim Vom Steeg. Whereas Harder Stadium has a larger, more open layout, Spanos Stadium is a narrow field built for American football.
“You’ve got these two dimensions of a game that’s played on a tight field that’s got people hanging over the sides, and a lot of set pieces,” Vom Steeg said. “So, to me, it’s almost a completely different game.”
Lower Game Attendance at UC Santa Barbara
Since 2011, Cal Poly has sold out all 11,075 seats in Spanos Stadium for the Men’s Soccer game against UC Santa Barbara. However, average attendance at UC Santa Barbara’s Harder Stadium started decreasing in 2015.
The lower numbers in Santa Barbara could be due to the lockdown of the UC Santa Barbara campus during the Halloween weekend. According to Vom Steeg, the “Halloween disaster” prevents community members from coming onto the campus and can also force adjustments to the time of the game to accommodate for the holiday.
Despite lower numbers, attendance saw a bump at the Men’s Soccer game against Cal Poly this season on Oct. 5 as the match brought in nearly 10,000 fans.
“We’ve not had a top-20 program the past three years,” Vom Steeg said. “This year, we do. So, consequently — not surprisingly — we do [have] 10,000 people at the game.”
The Mustangs go head-to-head with the Gauchos again on Nov. 2 in one of the biggest rivalries in college sports.
Free student tickets can be picked up in the Julian A. McPhee University Union (UU) Plaza or at the Performing Arts Center (PAC) ticket office starting Monday, Oct. 28 at 9 a.m. A valid student ID is required to pick up a student ticket. Students cannot pick up a ticket with anyone else’s ID, according to Assistant Director of Athletics Communications Chris Giovannetti.
After Monday, tickets will be available at the PAC on Tuesday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Wednesday through Friday from 12-6 p.m.
Once the allotment of free student tickets have been claimed, students can still purchase tickets for $12.
Although the Blue-Green Rivalry game holds a special place in Mustangs’ hearts, every game this season plays a significant role in the team’s advancement to the Big West Tournament.
“Every game has had importance,” Sampson said. “Every game, especially now in these final three games, will take on even more importance in a year where anybody can beat anybody else on any given day.”