Down 2-1 with under six minutes to play, senior forward Genelle Ives headed in a goal in crunch time to send the UCSB women’s soccer team into overtime with visiting Cal State Long Beach. The reigning Big West Offensive Player of the Year’s first score of the season could not have come at a better time, as sophomore forward Alissa Sanchez followed with the game-ending goal to give the home team a decisive 3-2 victory Thursday night.
“We know Long Beach is a pretty physical team,” Ives said. “They’ve got a lot of great players, but tonight we just seemed to have a little more energy and passion to get it in there.”
Riding a three game winning streak after dropping their first conference match of the year, UCSB entered last night’s contest with every intention of jumping on the 49ers, but Long Beach held fast initially. Santa Barbara would eventually come through in the 28th minute, when junior forward Kailyn Kugler found fellow junior forward Kylie McDonald breaking free from her defender in the box. Once she settled the ball, McDonald juked Long Beach keeper Emily Kingsborough to record her first goal of the year into the empty net, giving UCSB a 1-0 lead.
The homesteading Gauchos would take that lead into the half and came out in the second intent on making that goal stand up, but Long Beach had other ideas. In the 70th minute, sophomore midfielder Shawna Gordon lofted an accurate shot over the head of UCSB keeper Tammy Lenham, catching the junior out of position and tying the score at 1-1. Long Beach continued to engage the Gaucho backline with new energy, earning numerous corner kicks before one finally stuck. After Gordon sent one into the box at the 82 minute mark, junior midfielder Bo Rael settled it along the far post and blew a strike past Lenham for a 2-1 49er advantage.
With time running out in regulation, Head Coach Paul Stumpf brought fresh bodies off the bench to supplement the Gaucho attack, and it paid off. Already with a goal in the match, McDonald crossed a beautiful ball just before the endline into the box, setting Ives up perfectly for the game-tying header.
“It was just a beautiful cross from [McDonald],” Ives said. “Luckily I was in the right spot at the right time.”
Characteristic of a UCSB-Long Beach matchup — the two teams now have had their last three meetings extend to OT — extra time was needed to settle the score.
After freshman forward Jenny Soza had to be helped off the field after a collision with sophomore defender Alexa Stringer, UCSB took advantage of Long Beach’s diverted attention and created a brilliant chance in the box. Ives again had the header at point blank range, but it ricocheted off the cross bar and landed at the feet of Sanchez. With Kingsborough on the turf, Sanchez ended the match then and there with a line drive from five yards out, her second of the year.