SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – What a difference a year makes.
In 2012, the UC Santa Barbara women's soccer team needed six matches to score two goals. On Friday night, the Gauchos opened the 2013 season with a 2-0 win over Fresno State.
What a difference, indeed.
UCSB forward Allie Ariniello scored the game-winning goal in the 30th minute when she took a pass from Geneve Dromensk and cracked a shot from about 22 yards out above the right side of the box. Ariniello's shot seemed to take Bulldog goalkeeper Katie DeVault by surprise as she stood flat-footed while the ball sailed into the upper left portion of the goal.
"Allie hit a perfect shot," said UCSB head coach Paul Stumpf. "She really got good power behind it and made it count."
While the first goal was all the Gauchos needed, they didn't stop there.
At the 52:06 mark, Madison Beckley took a perfect feed from Dakota Griggs and pushed home a shot from about eight yards straight out. The shot was perfectly placed and just eluded the outstretched arm of DeVault, giving Santa Barbara a 2-0 lead.
UCSB nearly made the score 3-0 in the 81st minute when junior midfielder Kelly McGrath blasted a shot from just inside the 18-yard line. McGrath's missile caromed off the left post and the score remained 2-0.
"I liked the way we attacked tonight," Stumpf said. "I thought we were aggressive and had good looks. Defensively, I was also pretty happy with what I saw."
The Gauchos limited Fresno State to just six shots overall and only one on-frame. The defensive unit of Paige and Lindsay Gankema, Sydney Fuertes, Taylor Gehring, Kailey Hackett and Cristina Polini was outstanding and senior goalkeeper Makenna Henry saved the only shot-on-goal that she faced.
"It's good to get a win in the opener," Stumpf said. "We have a good mix of veterans and young players and getting a win gives us some confidence early."
UCSB had a 12-6 advantage in shots and a 7-1 edge in shots on goal. The Gauchos also doubled-up the Bulldogs in corner kicks, 6-3.
Santa Barbara will now venture on the road for its next three contests. On Monday, Aug. 26, the Gauchos will play at Weber State in a match that will kick-off at 3:00 p.m. They will remain in the Beehive State and play at Southern Utah on Wednesday, Aug. 28 at 10:00 a.m. (PDT).