SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State men's soccer team scored one short-handed goal, but it wasn't enough in a 2-1 loss to UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday afternoon in a Big West Conference game at Hornet Field.
The Hornets (8-7-2, 5-3-1 Big West) were down a man for most of the game after a red card on Matt Linenberger in the 20th minute. The Gauchos (10-5-3, 4-4-1) have scored just six goals in their last seven games, with four coming against the Hornets. After falling to UCSB on Wednesday and UC Davis on Oct. 20, Sacramento State has lost back-to-back home games for the first time since 2008, when they lost to Air Force on Oct. 17 and Denver on Oct. 19. The Hornets have lost just five games at Hornet Field over the last four seasons.
The loss to the Gauchos doesn't knock the Hornets out of contention for a North Division title or from earning the No. 2 seed to the Big West Tournament. In every possible scenario, the Hornets need to earn equal or more points on Saturday than Cal Poly in order to claim at least the No. 2 and final seed. A win is worth three points while a draw earns one point. A loss garners no points.
Heading into Saturday's games - Sacramento State visits UC Davis while Cal Poly hosts UCSB - the Aggies are currently in first place with 18 points while the Hornets and Cal Poly are tied for second with 16 points. The Gauchos are in last with 13 points. Sacramento State holds the tiebreaker on Cal Poly with a 1-0-1 record against the Mustangs this season.
The Hornets didn't have as much luck against the Gauchos.
On Wednesday after Linenberger's red card in the 20th minute, UC Santa Barbara's Ce sar Castillo scored on the ensuing free kick with a blast to the near post.
The Hornets would answer in the 39th minute on Chimdum Mez's first career goal. After the UCSB defense misplayed a ball, Mez dribbled past the last defender and beat UCSB keeper Austin Mansker one-on-one to the far post. It was the sophomore's first career goal.
The two teams went into halftime tied up, 1-1, but less than 10 minutes after the break, UCSB would score the game-winner.
In the 54th minute, midfielder Nic Ryan sent a long cross to the far post where 6-foot-3 forward Charlie Miller leaped and headed the ball back to the opposite post.
Sacramento State's best chance to tie up the game in the second half came in the 62nd minute, when Gabe Silveira flicked a ball over the defense in the box but Mansker and a sliding Alex Lopez met the ball at nearly the same time inside the six-yard box and Lopez's shot squirted wide.
Mansker made five saves, his second highest total this season (6 vs. Cal Poly), with one goal allowed while Sacramento State keeper Bryan Oliver surrendered two scores with four saves.
Overall, UC Santa Barbara had a 16-12 edge on shots while both teams took four corner kicks. Both teams were also whistled for 13 fouls while eight total cards were issued (seven yellow, one red).