Gauchos Bested by Gonzaga in Home Opener

Fifi Baiden (Photo by Francis Lipinski)
Fifi Baiden (Photo by Francis Lipinski)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The No. 12 Gauchos allowed a single goal in each half of Friday night's home opening contest against Gonzaga while scoring none of their own to drop a 2-0 decision at Harder Stadium.

It was the first loss and first shutout of the young season for UCSB (2-1-0). Gonzaga picked up their first win of the campaign to improve their record to 1-1.

The two teams battled with no clear distinction until the Bulldogs got on the board in the 29th minute. After advancing deep into UCSB territory, Gonzaga was able to earn a throw-in. Midfielder Nikolai Littleton tossed to forward Connor Bevans, who with his back to goal played a ball over his shoulder to Clark Phillips. Phillips spun himself into position and his finish beat Gauchos keeper Austin Mansker to make it 1-0.

As the game went on, the Gauchos struggled to create viable offensive chances, putting up no shots on frame until the 69th minute of the match, when an Achille Campion header found its way right into the gloves of Gonzaga keeper Ryan Caballero.

With time running out, UCSB tinkered with their formation to allow more attacking players upfield, however the Bulldogs would take advantage of this when Caballero sent a long ball that ended up at the feet of Ben Striar, who settled and shot past Mansker from 16 yards.

In full offensive blitz mode, the Gauchos were able to send three shots towards Caballero in the final four minutes of the match, but none would find their mark.

UCSB will look to get back on track next week, when they travel south to face their Southern California rivals No. 6 UCLA. That match will be televised on the Pac-12 Network and will also be the first game of the season broadcasted over the air locally by AM 1290 – Santa Barbara News-Press Radio. The Pac-12 Network can be found on Cox channels 286/1286 (standard definition/high definition) and Dish Network channel 413.

The Gauchos next play at home on Sunday, Sep. 15 against Pennsylvania. Tickets for that match, and all matches this season, can be found here.