No. 9 UCSB Falls Short in Battle With No. 1 USC

Oct. 29, 2009

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Ninth-ranked UC Santa Barbara battled tightly with No. 1 USC during Thursday afternoon's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation game at Campus Pool, but the Gauchos were unable to capitalize on several opportunities late in the game and came up short, 6-4, against the perennial powerhouse.

With the loss, UCSB falls to 9-9 on the season and 0-2 in MPSF play. The Trojans improve to 19-1 and 5-0 in conference games.

The Gauchos struck first when junior Milos Golic fired a shot from the point position less than three minutes into the game. The equalizer came less than a minute later with a goal by Kyle Sterling from just outside the left post. During their next possession, the Trojans struck again with another Sterling goal, this time during a counter attack, to take their first lead of the game.

Golic's second goal of the game with 2:51 left to go in the first put the score at two-all, but just 31 seconds later Matthew Burton scored giving USC a one-goal advantage heading into the quarter break.

The Trojans spread their lead to 4-2 early in the second quarter when a five-meter penalty was called on Kendell Olds and J.W. Krumpholz converted the ensuing penalty shot. Just 22 seconds later, sophomore Noah Smith scored a six-on-five goal, cutting the Trojan advantage to 4-3. USC added one more goal during the quarter from Justin Rappel to hold a two-goal lead at halftime.

In the third quarter, senior Sean Castillo scored from six meters out as the Trojans became even after an ejection to cut the score to 5-4. With 1:28 to go in the quarter, Matt Sagehorn had a shot blocked by Gaucho goalkeeper Myles Christian. Unfortunately for UCSB, Shea Buckner collected the deflected ball and fired in a skip shot from the left side to push the Trojan lead to 6-4.

Trailing by two with less than five minutes in the fourth quarter, the Gauchos created some great opportunities that could have staged a come back. The first was when Golic escaped his defender on a counter attack. Streaking down the right side of the pool, Golic picked up the ball and fired a shot from about seven meters out that went just wide left.

Just a few minutes later, freshman Shoemaker swam underwater and popped-up behind a USC player just in time to steal the ball from the Trojan. Shoemaker charged down the pool, cutting off two defenders on his way. With both defenders on his back, he fired a shot that went high.

The Gauchos also had two six-on-five opportunities in the final five minutes, but both shots failed to hit the back of the net as USC held on for the win.

Thursday's match-up with the Trojans was the third of the season between the two teams and by far the most tightly contested. The previous two were won by USC via 15-5 (Sept. 6) and 17-3 (Oct. 10) scores. The six goals were the second fewest the Trojans have been held to this season; UCLA held the team to five goals on Sept. 20.

"Obviously I am disappointed we lost this game," said head coach Wolf Wigo. "We had a great crowd and a great atmosphere here today. The game was close from our first goal and we didn't let down. We had some wide-open opportunities in the fourth quarter, but everything can't always go right.

"I am upset at the outcome, but this game proved that we have the potential to beat any team and it was a step forward for us."

UCSB will hit the road this week for a pair of games in Northern California. The Gauchos will play No. 13 Santa Clara at 2:30 pm on Friday and No. 3 Stanford in a MPSF game on Saturday at noon.

USC 6, UCSB 4

1 2 3 4 Final
USC 3 2 1 0 6
UCSB 2 1 1 0 4

USC Goals: Kyle Sterling 2, Shea Buckner, Matthew Burton 1, J.W. Krumpholz, Justin Rappel
USC Saves: Joel Dennerly 6.

UCSB Goals: Milos Golic 2, Noah Smith, Sean Castillo
UCSB Saves: Myles Christian 6