The Cal Poly men’s soccer team will start its Big West play against longtime rival UC Santa Barbara today at 7p.m. in Mustang Stadium.
The Mustangs (4-4) are looking for their third consecutive win after back-to-back victories against Sacramento State and San Jose State.
However, the task looks tough for Cal Poly as the Gauchos (4-2-1, 1-0) are currently ranked No. 10 in the nation.
“There should be some extra energy flowing trying to beat Santa Barbara,” Cal Poly coach Wolfgang Gartner said.
UCSB, unbeaten in the last five games, will be hungry coming off a controversial loss against Loyola Marymount on Monday.
UCSB’s forward Ivan Becerra looks to be one of Cal Poly’s main concerns. Becerra knows how to find the back of the net. He is second in the Big West in points scored with four goals and two assists.
Sophomore midfielder Nikhil Erlbach, senior defender Eric Ward and senior midfielder Moses Venegas all lead Cal Poly. Each has two goals and one assist.
History is on the Gauchos’ side, (UCSB leads the series 12-7 since the teams began facing each other in Division I play), but Gartner is optimistic.
“It wouldn’t be an upset in my book,” he said. “They’ve had an exceptional team the last two years, but I think the pendulum is swinging our way.”