For 100 minutes, Sunday’s match between UCSB and Seattle University unfolded like drama we’d seen before. After again finding themselves trailing a team that — at least on paper — they were predicted to beat, junior forward Kailyn Kugler turned in another multi-goal performance to send the match into overtime. That’s where the script wrapped, and the Redhawks (7-9-1 overall) wrote their own ending, finding the golden goal minutes into the second OT to beat the once-streaking Gauchos (7-8-1 overall, 3-2 Big West). Santa Barbara is now 2-1-1 in overtime contests.
“I just think we were dead,” said Kugler. “Maybe we didn’t have the sense of urgency because it was non-conference, but I think at that point our bodies were just done physically and mentally.”
Statistically speaking, UCSB’s first loss in five games could very well be attributed to the noon kickoff time. In matches that begin before 2 p.m. PST, the Gauchos are now 0-5-0 on the year. UCSB came out sluggish, and the Redhawks made them pay for it in the ninth minute, when senior forward Jamie Coe threaded her way through the defense and let fly a strike from 10 yards out to give the visitors an early 1-0 advantage.
UCSB would answer in the 31st minute when finally, after 90 tries, the Gauchos’ offense was able to convert a corner kick. Junior midfielder Jacqui Simon’s kick was deflected by freshman midfielder Erin Ortega in the box and was collected by Kugler for the equalizer.
“Hopefully we can keep going with [corners],” said Kugler. “We recently started doing something different, each girl has a certain run or position on the corner, so hopefully it’s helping.”
Apparently not content with going into halftime tied, junior midfielder Kara Kuttler found open space in the Santa Barbara backline and took advantage. The Redmond, Wash. native beat sophomore keeper Ali Cutler with a blast from 15 yards out to put Seattle back up 2-1 with less that seven minutes remaining in the first half.
The second half, however, would belong to UCSB. The home team consistently was on the attack until finally, in the 60th minute, their offensive fire paid off. Sophomore midfielder Katy Roby sent Kugler a beautiful feed as she was streaking into the box, and from that point the Gauchos’ leading goal scorer knew what to do with it, going near post to tie the game at 2-2.
True freshman keeper Taylor Gonzalez started the second half in place of Cutler and kept the Redhawks off the board during her first half of play at UCSB.
“She came up huge,” said Kugler. “I thought she did awesome. Her first real game in, she kicked butt, and I’m proud of her.”
In the end though, it seemed as if three consecutive overtime matches finally took their toll on the home team. UCSB entered extra time exhausted and only able to muster one shot, which on the flip side was all Seattle needed to end the game. Three minutes into the second overtime sophomore midfielder Alicia Malstrom blew by the Gaucho backline and sent a beautiful cross to Kuttler, who headed in the game-winner just over Gonzalez’s outstretched hands.
UCSB returns to conference play this week, heading north to face UC Davis this Friday before concluding the weekend with Pacific on Sunday. Santa Barbara will not return to Harder Stadium until Nov. 1 when they face off against central coast rival Cal Poly in a match that might very well decide the Big West.