SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara played Friday night's Big West game against UC Riverside with seven starters sidelined because of injury, so it was fitting that a previously little-used freshman would score the game-winning goal a little over four minutes into overtime, giving the Gauchos (9-6-1 overall, 3-2 BWC) a 1-0 win over the Highlanders (6-9-1, 3-2).
McKinsey Martinez capped a frenzied early part of the overtime at the 94:12 mark when she took a short pass from Allie Ariniello and poked a shot into the middle of the goal from about six yards out. Ariniello set-up the score when she rebounded her own shot and found Martinez right in front of the goal.
Ariniello, who scored the game-winning goal in Sunday's 1-0 win at Cal State Northridge, had two shots early in the overtime period that were both saved by UCR goalkeeper Elizabeth Silas. Silas ended with eight saves, but it was the one she couldn't stop that gave UCSB the win.
Santa Barbara had its chances in the second half with five shots on-goal, but Silas was up to the task with five saves. In the 48th minute, Madison Beckley had a header that Silas made a diving grab of while going to her left.
The Highlanders had their best second half chance in the 65th minute when Alexa Bustamante came flying in on a free-kick and headed a cross that skimmed off the top of the crossbar.
The first half was mostly played between the penalty boxes. After being outshot 2-0 in the first few minutes, the Gauchos ended the half with a 5-2 advantage, including two on frame. The most dangerous chance for either team came off the foot of UCSB's Miranda Cornejo who collected a loose ball near the top of the box and pounded a shot over the head of Highlander goalkeeper Elizabeth Silas. Cornejo's shot hit the crossbar and was cleared.
The Gauchos had another stellar defensive effort and sophomore goalkeeper Beth Ritter needed just two saves to post her eighth shutout of the season, tying her for the 10th most in school history. She also lowered her Big West-leading goals against average to 0.60. In fact, all nine Santa Barbara wins this season have come via a shutout.
The Gauchos return to the field on Sunday, Oct. 20 when they travel to Cal State Fullerton for a 6:00 p.m. match against the Titans. UCSB will play its final home game on Friday, Oct. 25 when it hosts Cal Poly. The game will be the final home appearance for a handful of seniors and will be another match-up of the Blue-Green Rivalry Series.