A pair of second half goals spurred the UCSB men’s soccer team to its first win of the 2022 season on Sunday night at Harder Stadium, as Salvador Aguilar and Thaabit Baartman both scored to give the Gauchos a 2-0 win over California Baptist.
UCSB now owns a 1-0-1 record through one week, while the Lancers are off to a 1-1 start in their first year competing at the NCAA Division I level.
“I thought that we’ve been building on every game and getting better,” said Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg. “Every game, the group that we have I get to know them a little bit better. I thought we made some adjustments at halftime that really worked for us and I thought that we really tired them out in the first half, our running was excellent today. We stepped on em, we didn’t let them out we stayed after it so overall I’m happy with it.”
While they won the possession battle and didn’t allow much of any solid chances for CBU on the defensive end, it was a bit of a slow offensive start for the Gauchos. Due to a combination of nagging injuries and figuring out where to fit their depth, the home side continued to put out new lineups.
The Lancer defense played tight in the middle early on, conceding some openings on the wings, but UCSB wasn’t able to take advantage early on. The chances started to come more often after the 20-minute mark, but it wasn’t until after the halftime break that the Gauchos would open the scoring.
Santa Barbara came out of halftime with a little extra aggression as it looked to break down the Lancer defense. In the 48th minute, sophomore midfielder Filip Basili gained space as he circled around on the left side, then sending a lofted ball in towards the man who has been UCSB’s main target so far this season, sophomore Salvador Aguilar. The big forward rose high for one of his patented headers, getting it past CBU keeper Evan Ince to make it 1-0.
It wasn’t long before UCSB doubled its lead. A slick one-two combination between forwards Alexis Ledoux and Pacheco sent the swift Ledoux towards the byline. The French sophomore played it back for Baartman in the center of the box, and although he didn’t make perfect contact on his shot attempt, it was enough to trickle through inside the far post.
UCSB would test Ince several more times before the night’s end, but wasn’t able to add to the score as the match grew chippier from both sides. Junior goalkeeper Leroy Zeller needed to make just one save in the second half as he and the Gauchos maintained the clean sheet.
– Aguilar was Santa Barbara’s lone goal scorer at Missouri State on Thursday, when he put away a similar header late to give the Gauchos a season-opening tie. Including UCSB’s exhibition against Westmont, he has scored four times in his last three outings, all through the air. The last Gaucho to score in each of the first two games of the season was Carter Clemmensen in 2018.
– Baartman, a 2021 All-Big West First Team selection, is the only Gaucho other than Aguilar with a goal through two games, and he is no stranger to early-season goals. Last year, the South Africa native scored three times in the first four games, eventually finishing second on the team with seven.
The Gauchos will be back on their home pitch this coming Friday, Sept. 2 to host Cornell on Faith and Non-Profit Night.
Michael Jorgenson writes about sports for UCSB.