Dec. 3, 2006
St. Louis, Mo. - UCLA's quest for NCAA Championship Number 100 for the university was put on ice, literally, in freezing temperatures at St. Louis University's Robert R. Hermann Stadium after a 2-1 loss in the NCAA men's soccer championship game to UC Santa Barbara. The Bruins fell behind early and recovered too late, as the Gauchos won their first NCAA soccer title and the university's second overall.
Despite playing 110 minutes plus penalty kicks less than 24 hours earlier, the Gauchos showed little signs of fatigue, scoring a goal just 2:12 into the game. UCSB forward Nick Perera struck first with an eight-yard shot in front of the box after a cross from Tyler Rosenlund. The Gauchos had two other good scoring opportunities, with a missed shot by Erica Avila in the eighth minute and a shot by Perera that hit the left post on a breakaway at 8:08. The left post was unkind to the Gauchos again in the 27th minute when Rosenlund struck the far post.
The Bruins did not get off their first shot until the 18:08 mark when a Brad Rusin header after a corner kick was saved by UCSB goalkeeper Kyle Reynish. Mike Zaher and Sal Zizzo had UCLA's other shots in the 23rd and 38th minutes, respectively, but both missed high. Jason Leopoldo had a scoring opportunity for UCLA with 25 minutes left in half but was upended by a Gaucho defender, with no call made. Zizzo had a breakaway opportunity as well with five minutes left in the half, but his pass to Leopoldo was too long.
Santa Barbara had a chance on a breakaway in the final minutes of the half, but a cross into the box was cleared by McClung over the endline for a corner kick. On the corner, Andy Iro's header was stopped by Eric Reed with a leaping save to keep the score at 1-0 at halftime.
The Gauchos kept the offensive pressure on in the second half, adding to their lead at 60:01 on a goal by Eric Avila, who hit a shot into the left corner past Reed after a great passing sequence from Perera and Bryan Byrne.
UCLA got back into the game at 78:56 when a Tony Beltran pass found Leopoldo on the endline. Leopoldo's shot went off Reynish for the Bruins' first goal. Less than a minute later, Zizzo got free on a breakaway and was fouled outside the box. Zaher's ensuing free kick was finger-tipped by Reynish out of harm's way. UCLA had another good chance with less than five minutes left, when a free kick by Nakazawa found its way towards an unmarked Sean Alvarado on the far post but skipped just passed him.
The Bruins finish the year 14-6-4, while UCSB finishes at 17-7-1.
Making the all-tournament team for the Bruins were Beltran, Leopoldo and David Estrada.