Cal Poly Defeats No. 16 UC Santa Barbara in Overtime

Nic Ryan (By Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The No. 16 UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team fell to visiting Blue-Green Rival Cal Poly, 2-1, in overtime on Friday evening in front a national FOX Soccer Channel audience and a season-high crowd of 13,467 fans at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium.

After taking the lead in the 75th minute on Nic Ryan's eighth goal of the season, the Gauchos gave up a goal in the 89th minute to the Mustangs forcing overtime. Mackenzie Pridham scored the golden goal in the 96th minute to propel Cal Poly to its first win at Harder Stadium since 1998.

With the loss, UCSB's record now stands at 9-3-3 overall and 3-3-1 in Big West Conference games. The Mustangs now hold a season mark of 9-5-1 and a 4-2-1 league record. The loss drops the Gauchos into fourth place in the Big West North Division standings; they now trail Sacramento State (13 points), Cal Poly (13 points) and UC Davis (12 points), respectively. Sacramento State and UC Davis will face-off on Saturday.

Friday's crowd of 13,467 fans is the top attendance nationally this season and ranks seventh all-time among the NCAA regular season attendance records and fourth for a campus venue. It goes down as the fourth largest crowd in Harder Stadium history. Pairings between UCSB and Cal Poly now account for 10 of the top-25 highest attended NCAA regular season match-ups. 

The match was a dynamic and tightly contested pairing throughout and while UCSB out-shot the Mustangs, 24-12, Cal Poly had several dangerous opportunities that kept the Gaucho defense battling hard throughout.

After fighting through over 74 scoreless minutes, UCSB finally broke through when freshman Ema Boateng played a spot-on cross to Ryan from outside the 25-yard box. Ryan scored on a diving header to give UCSB a 1-0 advantage. The goal was the senior's eighth of the season and looked as though it would be his fifth game-winner.

Alas, the Mustangs still had plenty of fight left in them. With the clock winding down on regulation time, UCSB goalkeeper Austin Mansker came off his line to try to punch the ball out of the box, but instead ran into Pridham on the dangerous play. The loose ball was quickly collected by George Malki who shot it into the wide open Gaucho goal to tie the game with just over a minute on the clock.

Malki's goal forced the teams into overtime for the sixth time in their last 13 meetings.

Pridham took the only two shots of the overtime period and the second did the trick. In the 96th minute, Chris Gaschen won a 50-50 ball and passed it to Pridham, who tapped it back. Gaschen heel-kicked it back to Pridham, who fired a shot to the far side of the Gaucho net for the game-winning strike. The goal was his ninth of the year and fifth game-clincher.

Pridham and Ryan led all players with five shots in the match and the former shot on-frame each time. The Gauchos' 24 shots marked a season-high for the program.

In goal, Mansker also saw a season-high, tallying six saves. The Gauchos forced Mustang goalie Wade Hamilton to come up with 11 saves.

The Gauchos will take a brief break from Big West action next Friday, Oct. 26 when it hosts Pac-12 foe Stanford at 7 p.m. at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. Santa Barbara's seniors will be celebrated prior to the match. Two days later, UCSB will host UC Davis on Sunday, Oct. 28 in its final regular season home match of the 2012 campaign at 2 p.m. 

To purchase tickets for one or both of these matches, visit the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, call (805) 893-UCSB or by click here.    

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