Hornets upset UC Santa Barbara


Sacramento State midfielder Ivan Ramirez takes the ball right before making a goal against UC Santa Barbra on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015 at Hornet Field. The Hornets defeated the Gauchos 5-2. 

Christopher Bullock

Sacramento State’s men’s soccer team had a lot of support going into Wednesday’s game against UC Santa Barbara, ranked 13th in the nation.

With the Green Army and the softball team in attendance, the Hornets (5-7-1, 2-4-0 in the Big West Conference) pulled off their biggest upset of the season, beating the Gauchos (9-4-1, 4-1-0 conference) 5-2 for their first win against UCSB since 1997.

Freshman reserve goalkeeper Nick Kubler, who was a baby the last time Sac State beat the Gauchos, could barely contain his excitement.

“It’s a great experience,” Kubler said. “It was great to see our team play at the highest caliber. We beat a giant today.”

In a match that was full of energy, the Hornets came out playing their most aggressive game all season. After the first 22 minutes of the game, the game was tied at zero. However, Sac State’s Isaac Flores had different plans.

In the 23rd minute, Flores took a lead pass from Brad Bumgarner into the box and broke away for the first goal of the game. The goal was the third of the season for the senior forward.

The Hornets would add on to their lead 10 minutes later, when Bumgarner took a lob from Trevor Jackson midfield to score his fifth goal of the season. Sac State went into halftime leading the Gauchos 2-0.

Coach Michael Linenberger had a simple strategy for his team going into the game.

“We wanted to stay compact defensively,” Linenberger said. “We hoped they would open themselves up because we knew they would have a lot of the ball.”

Gauchos coach Tim Vom Steeg was disappointed in his team’s first half performance, and he made sure to let them know it.

“I asked for energy,” Vom Steeg said. “All I heard was quiet and timidness coming from them.”

The Gauchos responded to his stern speech right away, as midfielder Kevin Feucht would be the first to put his team on the scoreboard. Feucht took a long shot from forward Geoffrey Acheampong and battled Hornets goalkeeper James Del Curto in the box before scoring his second goal of the season. The goal cut the Hornets’ lead to 2-1.

Knowing that a one-goal lead was not safe, the Hornets played the rest of the second half with a lot of urgency. In the 63rd minute, Sac State midfielder Ivan Ramirez scored on an unassisted dribble to give the Hornets a 3-1 lead.

The Hornets were not finished yet, however. In the 83rd minute, junior defender Preston Davis took an assist from Paul Geyer to score his first goal of the season. For Davis, it was his first goal since his junior year of high school.

“It was incredible,” Davis said. “It’s been a long time coming, and to do it against an opponent like UCSB, to put the game away, it was awesome.”

With a 4-1 lead, the Hornets had the game put away, but the Gauchos were determined to keep it close. Just 34 seconds after Davis scored, UCSB midfielder Ismaila Jome scored on a turnover to cut the Hornets’ lead to 4-2. The goal was Jome’s first of the season.

In the 87th minute, the Hornets would put the match away for good. Jessie Gonzalez took the ball downfield and passed it to Argenis Ramos, who took it to the box and missed his first shot attempt. Ramos would get the rebound and score in his second attempt and put the Hornets up 5-2. The goal was Ramos’ first of the season and put the nail in the Gauchos’ coffin.

For Flores, the win was special, but he quickly turned his focus on the team’s next game against rival UC Davis.

“This game is in the past now, we need to start looking at UC Davis. If we play like we did today, I’m sure we can get the win.”

With the win, the Hornets gained another three points in their division, and closed out their three-game homestand with a 2-1 record. Sac State will travel to UC Davis on Saturday for their annual Causeway Classic. The game starts at 3 p.m.