Monday, September 22, 2008

UCSB falls to Wake Forest, 6-2


Precision passing, disciplined runs off the ball, quickness on the ball, speed, tremendous athleticism and experience.
Top-ranked and defending national champion Wake Forest displayed all those ingredients before a big crowd at Harder Stadium last night in shredding UCSB 6-2 in the first Santa Barbara Challenge Cup.

A crowd of 7,408 watched the Demon Deacons explode for four goals in a 19-minute span of the second half to hand UCSB its worst home loss in Tim Vom Steeg’s 10 years as coach and leave no doubts that they are the best team in the country.
“That was a very good team, but more than anything it’s the same old story,” UCSB Vom Steeg said, “You can’t keep making mistakes. We gave them four breakaways, literally.”
Outside of a NCAA Tournament game, this match was as big as it gets in college soccer. It matched the last two national champions, and it was the first meeting since the teams tied 0-0 in the 2006 national semifinals, with UCSB prevailing in a penalty-kick shootout en route to capturing the title.
On Sunday, the young Gauchos (4-3) proved to be no match against Wake Forest. They struggled through the midfield and turned the ball over several times against the Demon Deacons’ high pressure.
“Their midfield is as good as I’ve seen in a long time. It made it really hard to play through the midfield and that’s where all the turnovers happened,” Vom Steeg.
“Our boys kept executing with what we wanted to do and we found the back of the net,” Wake Forest coach Jay Vidovich said of the scoring barrage. “It always doesn’t go like that. There are times you can’t score a goal and sometimes they come too easy.”
The Gauchos made it look easy early in the game. Nick Perera smashed a left-footed shot into the far-post side netting less than two minutes into the contest between the last two national champions
The goal was set up by the brilliance of freshman midfielder Bryan Dominguez. He split two defenders with some nifty dribbling and passed to Perera on the right side of the penalty area.
It was the first time this season Wake Forest (6-0-0) had trailed in a game.
“We did a couple of things there,” Vidovich said. “There was a soft tackle and the Gauchos are big-time players. They run right through that and they score a goal on us. And now we have to chase the game, and in this environment we’re wondering what’s going to happen.”
What happened was experienced players like midfielder Sam Cronin and forwards Marcus Tracy and Cody Arnoux took over the game. They kept the Demon Deacons from getting rattled.
UCSB found itself under constant pressure, but they somehow managed to keep Wake Forest at bay with some clutch defensive plays.
That all ended with 48 seconds left in the half. Wake Forest, capitalizing on the Gauchos’ inability to clear the ball out of their box, scored the tying goal.
Tracy got the ball and beat a defender before feeding Corben Bone, who beat goalkeeper Trond Helge Takset with a diagonal shot.
“Yeah, they might have still won, but (the goal) took the pressure off them and we didn’t come back,” Vom Steeg said. We didn’t compete for any of those balls with a minute left. You just gave them life. We were fine then things just fell apart.”
Vidovich noted that goal was the turning point for his team
“There certainly was a lot more calm in the locker room,” he said.
Wake Forest carried the momentum of that goal into the second half and riddled UCSB’s defense with four goals inside 24 minutes.
Wake Forest took a 2-1 lead less than five minutes into the second half when Ike Opara soared above everyone and headed Bone’s crossing ball at the far post.
Tracy and Sam Cronin worked a beautiful one-two combination with Cronin burying the shot for a 3-1 lead at the 57th minute.
After a UCSB turnover, Tracy scored on a 3-on-1 break 10 minutes later and Luke Norman tallied an unassisted goal for a commanding 5-1 advantage with 23:18 left in the second half. Chris Pontius scored on an impressive free kick from 19 yards to make it 5-2. It was the sixth goal of the season for Pontius
Sam Redmond added the final goal for Wake Forest, which outshot UCSB 12-4 in the second half and 22-11 for the game.
“It’s disappointing, but at the same time you just cannot make mistakes against a team like this,” Vom Steeg said. “If you do make a mistake, then you better figure out a way to close it out.”

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