The University of California, Santa Barbara Men’s Soccer Team went into its match versus California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo on Saturday night looking to clinch the North Division title of the Big West Conference, but the team’s historic rival had different ideas. In front of the largest crowd the Men’s Soccer Team has played in front of this season, and ninth largest in the history of college soccer, the Gauchos played to a 0-0 scoreless tie against the Cal Poly Mustangs.
The two teams’ Blue-Green rivalry is considered one of the great rivalries in college soccer, and the two soccer squads have faced off each year since 1921. Saturday’s match featured a crowd of about 11,000, the ninth-largest crowd in the history of National Collegiate Athletics Association Division I Men’s Soccer. The Gauchos went into the match attempting to emulate the winning form they had established earlier against the Mustangs. The team defeated Cal Poly 2-1 in an away match on Oct. 15.
Saturday’s match started slowly, as both teams struggled to find opportunities to score. Throughout the match, the Gauchos played more aggressively on offense than the Mustangs, attempting 10 shots compared to the Mustangs’ two. Gauchos forward Nick DePuy led the team with five shots, while forward Ahinga Selemani notched a team-high two shots on goal.
At the start of the second half, the Mustangs sent a shot sailing over the bar on a close goal-attempt. From there, it was all Gauchos. UCSB managed to keep the ball on the offensive as Cal Poly bunkered down for the long haul, trying to keep the Gauchos from scoring. The Mustangs briefly terrified the crowd with a goal near the end of regulation that was called back due to a late offside call.
After 90 minutes of regulation, the record-breaking crowd started to become restless, beating together the thunder sticks as the crowd tried to give the gauchos the literal home-field advantage. Both overtime periods played out much in the same way that regulation had, with the Gauchos controlling the ball but failing to find the back of the net.
Time slowly ticked away and the match drew to an anticlimactic 0-0 final score. UCSB remains undefeated in the Big West. The match became tense through several stretches, with three Gaucho players receiving a yellow card. The team as a whole committed 22 fouls compared to 13 by Cal Poly.
After a two-match winning streak, the draw leaves a bittersweet taste in UCSB’s mouth. Despite staying undefeated in conference play, the Gauchos failed to wrap up the North Division title, making the team’s next match against Sacramento State, on Oct. 26, a critical one. A draw or a win will seal the North Division title for the Gauchos.
Televised live nationally on Fox Sports, the latest installment of the fabled Blue-Green rivalry failed to live up to expectations, though fans remained excited throughout in typical tortilla-throwing tradition.
The Gauchos look to get back to their winning ways on Oct. 26 against Sacramento State, where they will have the opportunity clinch their fourth consecutive division title. The team already clinched its 14th postseason berth in the past 15 years, after its Oct. 19 win against UC Davis. Despite the disappointing result Saturday night, UCSB remains in the driver’s seat for the Big West Conference title.