Junior Waid Ibrahim scored in the 105th minute of the Thursday's NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship First Round game, propelling UC Santa Barbara (14-4-3) to a 1-0 victory over Denver (9-7-4) at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium.
The win sends UCSB to the NCAA Second Round for the ninth consecutive season. The Gauchos will travel to Berkeley on Sunday to face No. 6 seeded Cal (12-2-3), which earned an automatic berth into the tournament after winning the Pac-10 title. Game time is set for 1:30 pm.
The game-winning play began when junior Danny Barrera's pass up top was deflected by a Denver defender to Ibrahim, who scored with a shot from 16 yards out.
Ibrahim's goal was the first of the season for the sophomore, who has seen limited playing time due to an ongoing heart condition. The forward was making just his fifth appearance this year and his first since the Oct. 2 game against UC Davis. He had entered the game just five minutes prior to scoring his game-clinching goal.
"Waid can shoot the ball and he had one look and he buried it," said head coach Tim Vom Steeg. "I knew it (the goal) was going to come. I knew that somebody would find a way to bury something tonight."
UCSB, which has led its opponents in shots in its last 24 contests, posted a 31-4 shot advantage during the match, tying the Gauchos' season-high for shots and season-best for opponent's shots. Of the 16 players that entered the match for UCSB, 11 recorded at least one shot. Barrera led all players with five shots and three on-frame.
Denver goalkeeper Joe Willis was solid in the goal, making 10 saves during the match. One of his more impressive saves came in the 11th minute when Barrera crossed the ball to the far left post on a corner kick. Chris Hunter headed the ball towards the Denver goal from the left post, but Willis punched it out to keep the Gauchos off the scoreboard.
It was another defender that provided the next great Gaucho opportunity in the 35th minute when Michael Boxall shot to the far side of the goal from 20 yards out. The shot hit the right corner of the cross bar - just inches from going in - before deflecting out of bounds.
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