Following an away loss to UC Irvine (5-4-5), UC Riverside (6-6-2) hosted Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (5-6-1) on Saturday, Oct. 12, in a match that tested their patience defensively. Their discipline in the match proved effective as they returned home with a 1-0 win. On Wednesday, Oct. 16, UC Riverside (6-5-2) looked to carry the confidence boost into their next away match at Harder Stadium against UC Santa Barbara (10-2-2).
However, the Highlanders were unable to carry the momentum from their victory against Cal Poly into their match against UC Santa Barbara as the team fell 2-0. The Highlanders demonstrated defensive poise in the first half of the game, keeping the Gauchos scoreless. After a scoreless half, UC Santa Barbara emerged reinvigorated and flooded the Highlanders’ defensive sidelines with heavy ball traffic.
UC Riverside was unable to quickly adjust to their opponents’ tactical change as an awkward ground pass into their box resulted in a tap-in goal by UCSB freshman forward Finn McBride in the 52nd minute. The Gauchos repeated the formula in the 67th minute, as McBride received a perfectly placed cross which he redirected with a header into the upper right corner of the Highlanders net.
Although the final score was a shutout, the box score indicated a very close match statistically. Both teams each registered 10 shots and two saved shot attempts. Whereas the Highlanders had one more corner than the Gauchos, their opponents put two more shots on frame.
“We create good chances and now it just comes down to putting the ball in the back of the net,” Head Coach Tim Cupello said. “When our forwards find the first goal three two, three or four can come after that.”
Up next, the Highlanders will attempt to get back on track as they host Cal State Northridge (6-6-1) on Wednesday, Oct. 23 in Riverside.