Colleges: Anteaters bounce back

October 03, 2011|By Barry Faulkner
  • UC Irvine defender Marco Franco (3), battles for the ball against San Luis Obispo's Alex Loeffelman (32), left, and Mackenzie Pridham (8), right.
UC Irvine defender Marco Franco (3), battles for the ball… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

George Kuntz has learned not to get too excited about mid-season success. But the UC Irvine men's soccer coach was fibbing somewhat behind a muted grin Saturday night, when he was quick to call the Anteaters' 2-0 Big West Conference win at UC Santa Barbara "Just one game."

A win for any Big West program over UCSB, which has won seven conference regular-season and conference tournament titles in the last 10 seasons, is always a treasured accomplishment, particularly at always rustic and usually rowdy Harder Stadium.

The win was not only a welcome remedy to the disappointment of UCI's 1-0 conference-opening loss to visiting Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Wednesday. It also helped extend a winless conference start for the Gauchos.

The victory snapped a 16-game home unbeaten streak for the Gauchos, who were national champions in 2006.

UCI (9-2, 1-1 in conference), ranked No. 7 in last week's National Soccer Coaches Assn. of America poll and No. 1 in the West Region, needed a win to avoid slipping into the basement of the conference standings.


UCSB, which from 2001 through 2010 posted a 74-17-10 record in regular-season conference games (a .782 winning percentage), finds itself in last place in the seven-team conference. The No. 10-ranked Gauchos (6-3-1, 0-2), were upset, 3-1, at UC Riverside on Wednesday.

UCI, which sits in a four-way tie for second behind Cal State Northridge, will visit Cal State Fullerton (6-2-2, 0-1) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Titans stunned the Anteaters in the semifinals of the conference tournament last season after UCI had claimed its second regular-season conference crown in the last three years.

Northridge (5-4-1, 2-0) visits UCI on Saturday at 7 p.m.

The conference, the coaches for which picked UCI to finish fourth in the preseason poll, appears particularly balanced this season.

Cal Poly (4-3-2, 1-0), UC Riverside (6-3-1, 1-1), UC Davis (3-5-2, 1-1) are also tied for second with three points (three points for a win and one for a tie) heading into this week.

The UCSB student body was once again out in force among the 5,417 in attendance Saturday, adding justification to the words displayed on the T-shirt of the Gauchos' mascot. The T-shirt read: "There's no Harder Stadium than Harder Stadium."

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