The women’s UC Santa Barbara soccer team hit a road bump in their otherwise smooth season as they took a 1-0 loss in overtime on Thursday to the Cal State Northridge Matadors. The Matadors came into Thursday’s game as the underdogs; however, they delivered a level of pressure that the Gauchos hadn’t seen so far this season.
Despite the loss, UCSB has had a spectacular season. The Gauchos went into Thursday’s game with a spotless 7-0 record at home and 10-1-1 overall count that ranked as UCSB’s best start since 1990. While the Gauchos were looking to improve to 2-0 on the conference, they were unable to hold the Matadors and they now drop to 1-1-0 in conference play and 10-2-1 overall.
The Matadors experienced a much different outcome picking up their first conference win to improve to 1-1-1 and 6-3-5 overall. The Matadors’ upset had much to do with the heavy pressure they applied offensively, and the unexpected aggressiveness they came out with defensively.
Overall, the possession of the soccer ball appeared to be evenly distributed. CSUN ended the game outshooting the Gauchos 9-5, while UCSB found the corner slightly more than the Matadors, earning 5 corner kicks and CSUN earning 4.
Each team saw multiple chances throughout the game but were quickly shut down by each squad’s goalie. Matador redshirt junior goalkeeper Jovani McCaskill had a great game with critical blocks off key shots from Gaucho senior midfielder Dakota Griggs. Griggs was the highlight player of the day for the Gauchos, getting a team-high three shots off with two on goal, the only two on-frame attempts that UCSB would see in this game. Junior midfielder Chace Schornstein and senior defender Savannah Francis also had one shot attempt each.
Grigg’s biggest play happened in the 74th minute when she broke away from her defender to get a solid shot off into the left corner of the goal from thirty yards out. McCaskill, however, responded with a diving effort to barely push the soccer ball over the crossbar. McCaskill finished the game with two saves, while UCSB sophomore goalie Brittney Rogers tallied five.
Rogers had multiple outstanding performances that helped keep the Gauchos afloat until overtime. During the 24th minute, Matador senior midfielder Camille Watson took advantage of a defensive turnover getting a clear angle on the goal in the box. Rogers, however, followed Watson to position herself perfectly and stop the shot attempt. Rogers also had a successful save in a one-on-one situation in the second half.
It wasn’t until 87 seconds into overtime when Matador redshirt junior forward Cynthia Sanchez took the game-winning shot to beat the Gauchos 1-0. In an attempt to clear the ball out of UCSB territory, Sanchez beat the Gauchos to the soccer ball and delivered a low ball on the ground into the right corner of the goal. The shot went right past Rogers, who happened to find herself out of position at the top of the box.
While the Gauchos are still the team to beat in the conference, this loss against a team they were expected to defeat could be a blow to their confidence. With three of their final four Big West Conference games on the road, UCSB will need to take each match one at a time and focus on the adjustments they will need to make for each team.
The Gauchos will head on the road to San Luis Obispo next Thursday to revive the blue-green rivalry against the Mustangs.