Despite their many scoring opportunities, their complete control of the match and their confidence going in against a team they had beaten 11 times in a row coming in, the #17 Gauchos were unable to beat Cal State Fullerton in overtime last night, losing 1-0 at Titan Stadium.
UCSB (3-3-2 overall, 0-1-0 Big West) lost its first conference game of the season after keeping the ball in Titan territory for the majority of the match. It took Fullerton’s (2-4-2 overall, 1-0-0 Big West) first and only corner kick of the match with just 26 seconds left in the first overtime period to start the Gauchos off on the wrong foot in conference play this season.
Until the goal, senior goalkeeper Sam Hayden and the Gaucho defense rarely allowed Fullerton to cross midfield. Just seconds after a diving punch save to Hayden’s right, the Titans were given a set piece in which senior midfielder Antonio Vernaschi was able to put in the golden goal, snapping the Gauchos’ 11-game winning streak that extended back to 2003.
Hayden and sophomore forward Sam Garza received red cards and will have to sit out the Gaucho’s next match against UC Davis on Saturday. Garza received his after some jostling in the box on a UCSB free kick, while Hayden was given one for arguing with the referee about contact on the Titan goal.
“I ran out to the ref and I motioned to him for holding,” Hayden said. “And then I put my hand on my chest and it touched his chest, but I wasn’t pushing him or anything. And then he gave me a red card. He was honestly the worst ref I’ve ever had in my life.”
In a game where the Gauchos had 22 shots, 10 of them on goal, the team put the blame on not capitalizing on their opportunities at goal, something that has been a recurring theme this season.
“The message is that those are things that just… they do happen, but they can’t happen,” Vom Steeg said. “We can’t have things like that happen. We have to be able to find a way to win those games and somehow we have not been able to do that.”
After losing Garza to a red card in the 76th minute, UCSB continued to keep control of the game until the whistle sounded for overtime.
“We were very dominant tonight but then to take a red card and go down a man and still control the game and not get the goal, there’s no way to describe it,” Vom Steeg said. “[There is] nothing more disappointing than that. If you don’t play well, at least you can blame yourself. It’s just very disappointing.”
Kickoff against Davis will be at 7 p.m. at Harder Stadium on Saturday.