SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Senior goalkeeper Patrick McLain registered a season-high eight saves, but on Fox Soccer Channel and in front of 13,822 fans – the fifth-largest regular season attendance figure in NCAA history – the Cal Poly men's soccer program finished its 2011 season with a 2-0 loss at No. 17 UC Santa Barbara on Friday evening at Harder Stadium.
Looking to claim their first victory at UC Santa Barbara since Nov. 13, 1998, the Mustangs placed just one of their 11 shot attempts on goal. Despite the loss, Cal Poly (6-9-3, 3-6-1) – knocked out of the Big West Conference Tournament picture with a 1-0 home loss against No. 14 UC Irvine on Nov. 1 – still established program single-season records for fewest goals conceded (17) and fewest goals per match allowed (0.94).
With the victory, UC Santa Barbara (13-5-1, 6-4-0) solidified no worse than a third-place finish in the final Big West standings.
Cal Poly split the early run of play against UC Santa Barbara, but it was the Gauchos who enjoyed the early scoring chances. UC Santa Barbara sophomore forward Dom Sarle created space for a one-on-one opportunity against McLain (above) before being denied in the fifth minute. Senior midfielder Luis Silva then had an attempt gloved away by McLain in the ninth before junior midfielder Josue Madueno was stopped in the 13th.
The Gauchos were whistled offside four times during the first half, including a 33rd-minute infraction that saw senior midfielder James Kiffe have a goal called back. Sophomore forward David Opoku then saw an attempt stopped by McLain seven minutes before the break.
The Gauchos finally broke through after halftime with junior forward Sam Garza firing his seventh goal of 2011 across the Mustang box and into the left corner of the Cal Poly net in the 46th minute.
Cal Poly produced its lone shot on target in the 49th minute, with senior midfielder Ryan Anderson's shot outside the box stopped by Gaucho junior goalkeeper André Grandt.
McLain continued to hold off the Gaucho attack, principally turning away a solitary 55th-minute Madueno attack from the right flank and a 71st-minute Opoku strike from 15 yards in front of net.
McLain, however, couldn't keep the Gauchos at bay forever. In the first match between the two programs decided by more than a single goal since UC Santa Barbara's 3-1 victory on Nov. 3, 2007, Silva finished the scoring by picking up a pass from Sarle and rounding McLain to notch his team-leading 15th goal of 2011.