Opoku Leads Gauchos to Season-Opening Win
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Forward David Opoku, the 2010 Big West Freshman of the Year, showed no signs of a sophomore slump on Saturday night as he scored twice to lead UC Santa Barbara to a 3-1 season-opening win over visiting Seattle University at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium.
The Accra, Ghana native put UCSB on the scoreboard in the 19th minute when he kicked in a cross from Peter McGlynn, who had beaten his defender on the right side of the field.
The Redhawks had two prime opportunities in the final minute of the first half to tie the score. Brandon Hamer's shot was redirected by a diving Andre Grandt before the ball deflected off of the right post. Mikey Ramos quickly followed up with another shot, but Grandt made his second save of the game to keep the Gauchos ahead, 1-0, as the squads headed into the lockerroom.
Thirty minutes after his first strike, Opoku followed up with his second goal, an unassisted strike in the 49th minute. He collected a loose ball following a bad pass by Seattle and then fired a cross-goal shot to the far right corner of the Redhawks' net.
With 35 minutes to go in the game and trailing 2-0, Seattle suffered a setback when Josh Alvarez received a red card. Five minutes later, the Redhawks were depleted to just nine men on the field when Marshall Kosaka also picked up a red.
Despite playing down two men, Seattle was able to cut the Gaucho lead in half in the 71st minute on a play that began in the midfield. Travis Heim was dished the ball out wide before he crossed it to Kevin Cook who netted it, putting the score at 2-1.
With just over eight minutes to go in the game, Opoku nearly made it a hat trick when he headed a ball off of a cross from Sam Garza, but the ball sailed a bit wide.
In the 87th minute, UCSB showed that they had a bit more left in them as McGlynn fired a ball from about 40 yards out. Peter Schmetz redirected the shot into Seattle's goal to put UCSB up, 3-1.
The Gauchos out-shot the Redhawks, 20-5, in the win and led in corner kicks, 10-2.
Opoku led all players with seven shots while Garza and Dom Sarle each had four.
Grandt made two saves on the way to his first win with the Gauchos. Seattle goalkeeper Jake Feener had six saves.
UCSB will travel to North Carolina next week to play Duke on Friday, Sept. 2 and North Carolina State on Sept. 4. The Gauchos will play at home next on Friday, Sept. 9 against West Virginia.
To ensure you don't miss a minute of the 2011 soccer season, purchase your season tickets now by calling (805) 893-UCSB, visiting the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus or by clicking here.