A crowd of 1,123 fans packed the Sports Complex on Saturday night to watch a display of fancy footwork and card distribution.
But despite the Cal Poly men’s soccer team outshooting visiting Big West Conference rival UC Santa Barbara 15-8, the Gauchos still handed the Mustangs a 2-0 loss.
Cal Poly fell to 6-6-3 overall and 2-3-1 in the Big West while UCSB improved to 8-6-0 and 4-2-0.
The first goal was scored in the 11th minute by UCSB’s Eric Avila.
Only 40 seconds later, Bongomin Otti knocked the ball past diving Cal Poly goalkeeper Eric Branagan-Franco for UCSB’s second goal.
Tyler Rosenlund assisted on both goals.
Branagan-Franco said he felt more pressure playing one of Cal Poly’s rivals, but that’s what makes a game exciting.
UCSB ended its three-game losing streak.
“This is a big win for us and will get us back on track,” UCSB forward Tino Nunez said.
The Mustangs dominated the field after the two goals were made, with 10 shots on goal to UCSB’s three.
There were many close shots on goal in the second half, including a crowd-stander attempt by K.J. Lenehan from the left side, but UCSB goalkeeper Kyle Reynish made an amazing save when he tipped the ball over the crossbar.
Because of the aggressive play, the two teams combined for five yellow cards, one red card and had 13 fouls apiece.
“The first two shots of the game were a real downer, but we came back strong in the second half and showed our dominance,” Cal Poly midfielder Brian Jones said after the game.
The luck just wasn’t there, even with the Mustangs in Gauchos territory the majority of the game. In the last 20 minutes, UCSB was down a man after a red card was given to defender Andy Iro.
“First we couldn’t get anything going, after the two shots we had the opportunity for sure, we just couldn’t finish,” Cal Poly midfielder Jose Garcia said. “That’s what hurt us.”
“We have to give credit to Santa Barbara, they played direct, launched balls forward, at that time we weren’t ready to deal with it,” Cal Poly first-year head coach Paul Holocher said.
Although it was a disappointing loss, Holocher said the team is young and will learn how to win games as big as the one Saturday.
Cal Poly visits Cal State Northridge on Wednesday and hosts UC Irvine at 7 p.m. Oct. 21.