Nov. 25, 2008

Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Athletics

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Through a steady rain, the No. 19 UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team rallied from a two-goal deficit only to see No. 9 Cal defeat them, 3-2, in the second overtime during Tuesday's NCAA Tournament Second Round match.

It is the first time that UCSB - which received a first-round bye - has ever lost a NCAA Tournament soccer match at Harder Stadium and the first time in the Gauchos' seven consecutive NCAA appearances that the team failed to win a game.

UCSB (10-7-5) ended its season in a six-match winless streak, the first time a Gaucho soccer team has endured that type of winless run since Oct. 23-Nov. 13, 1998.

Cal will play at No. 2 seed Maryland on Saturday.

The Golden Bears (12-3-5) took a 2-0 lead in the 61st minute when UCSB defender Michael Boxall failed to clear a ball out of the box. Cal's Andrew Wiedeman collected the ball and easily put it past goalkeeper Trond Helge Takset, who was near Boxall, trying to receive a pass.

That sort of defense has been the Gauchos' Achilles heel all season and it ruined their chance to go to the Third Round for the fifth time in their seven NCAA appearances.

At 102:12, Wiedeman again found himself in a fortunate position and again had a UCSB defender fail to clear a ball out of the box. Wiedeman put a good leg on it and blasted it into the net, sealing Cal's win.

UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg and several players said that the wet and slippery conditions on Harder Stadium's pitch were not to blame for the defeat.

The Gauchos rallied back to tie the game quickly in the second half. Just seven minutes after Wiedeman put the Golden Bears up 2-0, Martin Hedevag beautifully headed in a corner kick from Michael Tetteh. Hedevag stationed himself about six yards out and as Tetteh's low line drive came in, the junior from Sweden knocked it past Cal goalie Stefan Frei.

Just two minutes, 30 seconds later, Tetteh had a free kick from just over 20 yards out. He sent the ball past the initial wall of Cal defenders, but a defender got a foot on it and accidentally knocked it past Frei.

After that goal, the Gauchos had far superior ball control and numerous opportunities. The Gauchos totaled 24 shots, with 18 of them coming in the second half and first overtime period. However, Frei was on his game, making 11 saves and continually thwarting the Gauchos' attack.

Chris Pontius, who set a school record for shots in a season, and Nick Perera had a combined seven shots on goal, but Frei was more than up to the challenge.

After a scoreless first overtime, Cal finished off the Gauchos just 2:12 into the second overtime, ending UCSB's season in dramatic fashion.