After beating the St. Mary’s Gaels only once in their last five matches, the UC Santa Barbara women’s soccer team refused to take a loss on Friday night when junior forward Amanda Ball netted the game-winning goal with 5:37 left in the first overtime to beat the Gaels 1-0.
UCSB’s win on Friday marks the Gauchos’ second consecutive overtime victory in the 2016 season, while the Gaels extend their losing streak to two, putting St. Mary’s overall record at 0-2 and UCSB’s at 2-0. Ball has already proven to be the star of this 2016 season. All four of Santa Barbara’s goals this year have come from the young playmaker as she is one of the Gauchos’ most consistent outlets.
The two teams proved to be evenly matched on Friday night as each had numerous opportunities to close out the contest, but were consistently shut down by solid defensive play. UCSB earned four corner kicks over the course of the game, a pair in each half, while the Gaels had just one in each half.
With just a few minutes remaining in regulation play in a 0-0 game, the Gauchos thought they had it won when sophomore midfielder Madeline Gibson drilled a shot on goal only to have it deflect off the left post. The Gaels held it together and contained UCSB the rest of the way, forcing the game into overtime.
In overtime, Santa Barbara’s offense was too powerful; Ball carried the Gauchos to victory when she took on a Gael defender one-on-one after recovering a loose ball in the box. After taking 14 touches around the Gael defense, Ball created an opening to rip the game-winning goal in the 104th minute of play.
While the Gauchos were only able to score one goal, they penetrated Gael territory all night. They took a total of 14 shots and held St. Mary’s to only 9. Ball took the most attempts on goal for the Gauchos with 8, while both Gibson and sophomore midfielder Mallory Hromatko had a pair each.
Senior goalkeeper for the Gaels, Julia McDonald, logged a total of five crucial saves for St. Mary’s, one in the first half and four in the second. The Gaels senior forward Morgan Darling, a transfer from San Diego State, took the most shots against the Gauchos on Friday night. Darling targeted the goal seven times, but couldn’t manage to place the ball past Gaucho sophomore goalkeeper Brittney Rogers who had two saves.
Rogers has proven to be very reliable in the goalie box this year for the Gauchos despite her lack of experience when, as a freshman last year, she played in only one game against Loyola Marymount. Rogers has played a total of 141 minutes this season without allowing a single goal.
While the Gauchos have already put together two tense overtime wins this season, they will be looking to increase their scoring, particularly early in the game. The Gauchos will look to make these improvements in their upcoming non-conference game this weekend against the 2-1 University of San Francisco Dons.
The Dons are coming off of a tough 2-1 loss against the Cal Poly Mustangs. San Francisco finished the 2015 season with an impressive 13-4-3 overall record and a 7-2 record in conference play. Recently, the two teams have had a back-and-forth history. Last year, the Dons earned a tough 1-0 victory over the Gauchos. In their previous match in 2012, the Gauchos defeated the Dons 3-1.
The Gauchos will have to keep pressure on the Dons’ redshirt sophomore midfielder Samantha Jehnings, who had a total of seven goals last season, a team high, and two assists. Jennings was named to the WCC All-Freshman team last year, and earned All-WCC honorable mention honors. She shot three game-winning goals on the year, a tie for third in the conference.
Facing her already last year, the Gauchos have the advantage of knowing what to expect and how to prepare for this firecracker of a player. Santa Barbara will be coming into this game undefeated on the season and will surely be ready to play.
UCSB will host the San Francisco Dons on Sunday the 28th at 1 p.m. in Harder Stadium.