SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Gauchos fought back from an early deficit to claim a 2-1 overtime win over No. 4 Cal State Northridge on Friday night, as Achille Campion's 100th minute penalty conversion gave UCSB its second consecutive golden goal win at Matador Soccer Field.
Now on a four-game win streak, UCSB improved its record to 8-4 with the win while remaining a perfect 3-0 in conference play. Cal State Northridge fell to 10-2 with the loss and dropped its first Big West points of the season, as they now hold a 2-1 record in the conference.
The Matadors, ranked fourth in the country, are the highest ranked opponents to be defeated by the Gauchos this season. UCSB is now 2-1 against ranked opponents in 2013 after defeating No. 19 Northwestern in August and falling to No. 14 UCLA in September.
Things looked stark for the Gauchos early in the match, as CSUN rode an early wave of pressure to the match's opening goal. Earning a free kick in the sixth minute, the Matadors were able to work the ball into the box. After an unsuccessful UCSB attempt at clearing the ball, CSUN's Mynor Giron crossed back into the box for Juan Samayoa, flicking on to Sagi Lev-Ari, who headed to the far post for a 1-0 lead.
UCSB responded well to the goal, despite not equalizing until the last few minutes of the game. After Lev-Ari's goal, UCSB took eight of the nine remaining shots in the first half, while earning five corners to CSUN's zero. The Gauchos then peppered the Matadors with 13 shots in the second half, giving them a season-high of 22 shots on the night.
Cal State Northridge keeper Adam Hobbs had to make a trio of spectacular saves to keep the Gauchos off the board, including diving deflections of headers from Nick DePuy in the 32nd minute and Peter Schmetz in the 54th minute as well as a sure handed grab of a Paul Ehmann shot in the 55th minute.
The Gauchos were finally able to convert on their numerous chances in the 87th minute. Sophomore midfielder Marshall Cazares started the chance by earning a free kick about 25 yards from goal. Freshman midfieler Drew Murphy stepped up to take the free kick, curling a cross to the left post. Senior defender Peter Schmetz leapt and made contact with the ball, heading it to the far post, out of Hobbs's reach this time.
Murphy's service gave him his fifth assist of the season, tying him for the team lead with winger Ismaila Jome.
UCSB and CSUN both put down the defensive clamps in the overtime period, as the Matadors attempted the only shot of the frame until Campion's decisive penalty. With less than 30 seconds left, the Gauchos unleashed a final offensive blitz on the Matadors defense, and UCSB got just what it needed when a CSUN defender was called for a hand ball in the box while attempting to defend a through ball.
Campion stepped up to the spot, and despite a lengthy delay as the Matadors tried unsuccessfully to switch goalies, beat Hobbs to his left despite the keeper guessing correctly which way the Frenchman would go. The senior now leads the Gauchos in goals with five. It was the first penalty called for or against UCSB this season.
Freshman keeper Josh McNeely made three saves in the win, pushing his personal record to 7-3. His shutout streak ended at 275:18 minutes.
The Gauchos will face another tough conference foe on Sunday afternoon, when they travel to UC Irvine to take on the Anteaters. Kick-off for that match will take place at 4 p.m. A live audio broadcast of that match can be heard on UCSBgauchos.com.