UCSB women’s soccer began its 2016 season on a high note as it secured its first conference win by defeating Fresno State 3-2 in double overtime on the Bulldogs’ home turf. The team displayed a relentless effort against Fresno State, and it is evident that the Gauchos are determined to improve upon their commendable 2015 season record of 13-6.

Against Sacramento State, forward Hannah Dearborn pushes the ball past her opponents.

Against Sacramento State, forward Hannah Dearborn pushes the ball past her opponents. Daily Nexus / Christina De Marzo

With the win, Santa Barbara is officially 1-0 to start the new season. After defeating Westmont at home in last week’s exhibition match, it was important for UCSB to show that their competitiveness follows them on the road.

An aggressive start from the Gauchos set-up forward Amanda Ball to have herself a career day, as the junior scored all three goals for UCSB, completing the first hat trick of the season. Ball is entering her junior year already ranked as one of the all-time top scorers in Gaucho history.

She drilled two goals early in the first half, with both strikes set up perfectly off clutch assists from sophomore midfielder Maddie Gibson. Still, the team would need more to defeat the hungry Bulldogs.

During the second half, Fresno State dominated as they pounded in two goals past Gaucho senior goalkeeper Jacq Caginia, while keeping the Gauchos scoreless. Bulldogs freshman midfielder Sydni Lunt and junior defender Sara Jo Ciapponi seemed to find an opening within the UCSB defense, as they each took well-angled shots on goal and tied the game at 2-2 to put it into overtime.

Quickly regaining focus, the Gauchos pulled themselves together to hold the Bulldogs scoreless during a well-fought first overtime period. Then at the 101-minute mark in the second overtime, Gibson earned a free kick and she lofted a floater straight to Ball, who finished the play with a game-winning header.

The Ball-Gibson combination looks like it may be a go-to strategy for the Gauchos as this season unfolds.

UCSB will look to ride the momentum of the first win of the season as it prepares to face St. Mary’s Cal. on Friday, Aug. 26 at p.m. at Harder Stadium.