The UCSB men’s lacrosse team stunned Cal Poly Wednesday night on senior captain Aaran Hemeon’s overtime goal. The game was the first Face Off vs. Leukemia and was dedicated to former Gaucho lacrosse goalie Stephan Meloy.
Meloy, a former goalie on the 2005-06 team, passed away last August from his second bout with Leukemia. The team reached it’s goal of selling 500 T-shirts with all proceeds going directly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Santa Barbara.
With both teams coming into the match undefeated, the stage was set for another heated rivalry game. While the Gauchos hold the overall match up, the Mustangs had won the previous two meetings. With big wins over Cal State Fullerton, Oregon, BYU, and Cal, Cal Poly has reached their highest ranking in program history at #2 in the latest Inside Lacrosse MCLA Coaches poll. The Mustangs are led by senior attackmen Matt Graupmann and Scott Heberer. Heberer has eight goals along with six assists this year and was named first team all conference and offensive player of the year last year in the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League.
With 7:40 left in the first quarter Cal Poly already had a two goal lead. The Gauchos then netted four unanswered goals by Jamie Bridgman, Aaron Hemeon, Jonny Morgan, and Cj Jacobs. Bridgman had 5 goals on the night bringing his season total to a team leading 14. A goal by Cal Poly’s Zach Jones brought the score to 4-3 heading into half time.
Only a minute and nine seconds out of half time, Bridgman’s second goal gave the Gauchos a 5-3 lead. Another UCSB goal from junior Andy Lihani gave the team their biggest lead of the night and brought the score to 6-3. Then the Gauchos allowed the Mustangs to take back the lead heading into the fourth quarter with four unanswered goals.
“We’ve done that to ourselves a couple times this year, like against Chico St. for example,” Head Coach Mike Allan said after the game.
To start the fourth quarter Bridgman tied the game back up at 7-7 with a miraculous diving shot. The score would not remain tied for long. Only a minute and three seconds later Cal Poly took the lead back with a goal from Brett Vergara.
UCSB was up to the challenge and responded quickly by tying the game and eventually taking back the lead with Bridgman’s fourth and fifth goals. With the lead and only 16 seconds left a Gaucho win looked imminent, but Cal Poly mounted one last charge up the field and tied the game. The game went into overtime tied at 9-9.
With 2:18 left in the sudden death overtime, Hemeon’s game winning goal sent tortillas flying in the air and almost the entire crowd out on to the field.
“These guys have a lot of fight in them,” Coach Allan said. “I keep telling them whatever happens just move on and get the next one.”
UCSB’s next game will be at home on Monday, March 5 against fifth ranked Boston College at 2:30 PM.