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HomeSportsSoccerUC Santa Barbara Defeats UC Irvine 4-0, Wins Big West Conference Championship

UC Santa Barbara Defeats UC Irvine 4-0, Wins Big West Conference Championship

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The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (12-4-4, 6-12) defeated the UC Irvine Anteaters (8-8-4, 6-12) 4-0 in the Big West Conference Championship Final at Harder Stadium in Santa Barbara on Nov. 13. 

Each team made a total of 11 shots, but seven of those shots were on target for UCSB, while UCI only had three shots on target.

With home-field advantage and 2,209 people in attendance, UCSB thrived in Gaucho energy. 

UCI tried to put themselves ahead early with redshirt freshman midfielder Mario Anaya firing a shot just off target 13 minutes into the game.

UCSB answered just a minute later when freshman defender Ramses Martinez, an alumnus of prestigious soccer camp LA Galaxy Academy, took a shot towards the center of the goal and scored. UCSB took the lead, 1-0. 

22 minutes into the game, UCI tried to retaliate with a shot to the bottom center of the net by junior midfielder Beto Alvarenga, but Gaucho sophomore goalkeeper Leroy Zeller blocked the shot. 

UCI’s graduate student goalkeeper, Gordon Botterill, had his first save of the night 32 minutes into the game, saving a shot by junior forward Thaabit Baartman.

Both UCI and UCSB’S goalkeepers made three big saves in the game; the difference between their performances came to Botterill conceding four goals while Zeller maintained a clean sheet.

One of Zeller’s big saves came 34 minutes into the game when junior defender Michael Orozco, who shares a name with Orange County Soccer Club’s captain and former U.S. national team representative, made a tricky shot towards the top center of the net. Zeller saved the shot with ease.

43 minutes into the game, freshman forward Salvador Aguilar, a High School member of the San Jose Earthquakes Academy, scored the second goal of the night with another right-footed bottom center goal, bumping UCSB to a 2-0 lead. 

To make it worse for the Anteaters, sophomore midfielder Oscar Cervantes was awarded a yellow card within the following two minutes. Because Cervantes was already awarded a yellow card in the first 20 minutes, he was disqualified from the remainder of the game. UCI had to play the rest of the game with only 10 men against UCSB’s 11.

The second half began with two off-target shots from UCI’s sophomore forward Finn Ballard McBride and Anaya. 53 minutes into the game, UCSB junior defender Henry Davies scored with a deadly right-footed shot towards the bottom left of the net, assisted by freshman defender Caden Vom Steeg. The score was now 3-0 in favor of UCSB.

McBride, assisted by Martinez, scored a powerful right-footed strike to the bottom center of the net, giving UCSB a 4-0 lead 65 minutes into the game. 

In the game’s final minute, UCI senior forward Lawrence Yamaguchi took a shot towards the bottom center of the net in a final effort to put a goal on the board. The shot was saved by Zeller.

The game ended in a UCSB 4-0 victory, earning them the Big West Conference Championship. With this win, UCSB also qualified for the NCAA tournament, which will began on Thursday, Nov. 18. 

Marcos Gonzalez is a 2021-2022 Sports Staff Writer. He can be reached at marcosg9@uci.edu.