Nov. 13, 2004
Irvine, Calif. - Neil Jones closed out top-ranked UC Santa Barbara's regular season with golden goal in the 106th minute to give the Gauchos a 1-0 win over UC Irvine to close out the regular season. The win give the 2004 Big West Champions a 17-2-1 overall record heading into next week's NCAA Tournament, tying the team for the best regular season record in UCSB history. Dan Kennedy only had to make two saves on the night for his 11th complete game shutout of the season, tying him for Santa Barbara's single season record.
The Gauchos came out quick with two early scoring chances in the first 90 seconds with senior forward Drew McAthy sending two passes across the box but just out of reach of is fellow frontrunners. UCSB nearly scored its first goal in the 15th minute when Jones took a Lochhead corner kick and headed across the frame and past a leaping Cameron Rossi. Fortunately Rossi's defense had his posts covered, sending away a certain goal. Just two minutes later the Gauchos threatened again but Jonathan Davis' one-time shot was deflected wide to the right.
In another flurry in the 20th minute Jones reached out for a shot with his left foot after Davis beat two defenders on the left side and sent the ball into the box. With Jones falling Rossi made the first of three consecutive saves on a trio of Jones shot taken while laying on his back.
UCSB came close once again in the 36th minute after a niftty play down the right flank between Bryan Byrne and Tino Nunez. Nunez back-healed a give-and-go to Byrne attacking the near post who in turn sent a cross to backside where McAthy fanned on his attempt. Davis picked up the loose ball and found Byrne near the top of the box who turned a fired a leftfooted shot into the arms of an awaiting Rossi.
The Anteaters first true scoring opportunity came in the 38th minute when Kit Vitagliano beat Andy Iro one-on-one down the Gauchos' defensive left, but Dan Kennedy came up huge, making a sliding save to keep the game tied a 0-0.
McAthy nearly put UCSB up 1-0 with just over three minutes remaining in the first half, lofting a shot from just inside the top left of the UCI penalty box and onto the back post. Rossi got a hand on the McAthy shot, but left the rebound floating in front of his net where Nunez picked it out of the air with his head and redirected towards the net. But once again the Anteaters defense was in the right place at the right time, making its second team save of the half.
The first half ended 0-0 with the Gauchos taking an 8-3 advantage in shots on goal which translated into 10-8 margin in total shots. UCSB also took four corner kicks in the first stanza compared to the Anteaters zero.
The Gauchos' first scoring chance of the second half didn't come until the 63rd minute when Byrne beat his defender in the right corner and sent a cross to the near post. Tyler Rosenlund took the cross and lifted a header towards the goal where it was deflected over, setting up a Lochhead corner kick. Lochhead arced in a perfect pass to the backpost but defender Pat Scott could not put his header on frame.
UCSB nearly broke the scoreless tie in the 87th minute when McAthy picked up a loose ball after Lochhead crossed the ball from just outside the penalty box but his shot was deflected over the cross bar, resulting in the game being sent into overtime.
Jones nearly gave the Gauchos the win in 3rd minute of the first overtime period after one of UCSB's many corner kicks on the night, but his defender got tangled in his feet taking away an chance at a shot. The Kiwi striker nearly came through once again, this time redirecting a Lochhead cross from the left side that Rossi was forced to make a leaping save in order to keep the clock ticking and second the match to a second sudden-victory overtime period.
But the third time was the charm for Jones in overtime, netting the game-winner at the 105:05 mark for his tenth goal of the season. McAthy began the play out wide on the left side carrying the ball to just outside the corner flag, with the entire UCI defense collapsing on the box McAthy pushed the ball back out to Lochhead charging from the center circle to draw the defense out. Lochhead took a quick touch to settle the ball about 30 yards out and sent a hard pass inside the box to Jones who was standing near the penalty stripe. Jones sheilded his defender and redircted Lochhead's pass with his instep, tucking it just inside the right post and under a diving Rossi. The assist for McAthy gives him 114 total points for his career, setting a new Santa Barbara career scoring record.
The overtime win gives the Gauchos a 4-0-1 record in matches that involved extra time heading into next week's NCAA Tournament. UCSB will be gathering at Zodo's Bowling and Beyond on Monday to watch the NCAA Selection Show airing at 1:30 p.m. PST on ESPNews to see who they will be facing.