Santa Barbara, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara women's soccer team earned their first conference win of the season Friday night with a goal in the last minute to defeat Hawai'i 2-1 at Harder Stadium.
After dropping both their conference opening games this past weekend, the Gauchos (7-5-2, 1-2) looked to rebound from their losses and face the visiting Hawai'i Rainbow Wahine (6-7, 1-2). In what appeared to be a likely overtime match turned out to be a thrilling win for UCSB.
The match started off with the Gaucho offense taking immediate attack towards the Hawai'i defenders. Within a couple minutes into the match, UCSB was put on top with a goal by sophomore midfielder Sara Feder. A shot led the ball to bounce off the crossbar, allowing Feder to await the ball to come down and strike it into the back of the net for the early 1-0 lead. This was Feder's third goal of the season.
The Gauchos continued to run down the field and hold possession of the ball while taking near misses around the net. Senior midfielder Geneve Dromensk had the opportunity to add to UCSB's lead with a few shots, including one that narrowly missed the upper left box and instead skimmed the crossbar to go out of play. Freshman Amanda Ball also had a close shot that was saved by Wahine goalkeeper Erica Young after the two battled for it when it momentarily slipped through Young's arms.
UCSB came into the second half with the same aggressive approach by taking more shots and corner kicks. However, Hawai'i was able to slide a fast goal in the 62nd minute to tie the game up. Wahine forward Pascua Kama came out of almost nowhere to beat Gaucho defenders and gave goalkeeper Beth Ritter no chance to react to Kama's swift shot.
The Gauchos faced a scary moment late in the match when defender Miranda Cornejo was knocked down by a Hawai'i player. Players and spectators watched in utter silence as medical staff attended to an unresponsive Cornejo. Kailey Hackett would come in to replace the senior, who has been a rock for the Gauchos in the back field this season.
With time winding down, UCSB maintained their resiliency with a couple late shots. At the 89:51 mark, the ball once again hit the crossbar and fell right in front of the goal box with a bounce putting it back into the air. Madison Beckley, who had came into the match only a few minutes earlier, poised herself for the header that would reach the back of the net and win the match.
"This was a good conference win," said head coach Paul Stumpf. "Unfortunately we paid a price by possibly losing Miranda to injury. Maybe we should have scored more goals from chances created and it would not have been such a dog fight."
Overall, UCSB took twice as many shots and shots on goal as Hawai'i with 18-6 and 8-4 advantages. The Gauchos also had an edge in corner kicks, 5-1, that contributed to their offensive attack. The top shooters of the night were Amanda Ball with five, while Sara Feder and Geneve Dromensk each had three among the seven different Gaucho players who struck the ball.
Defensively, Beth Ritter made three saves to hold the match to a close score and drop her goals against average to a 0.89. In 14 regular season games, UCSB has yet to allow an opponent to score more than two goals. The last time this occurred was back in 2006 when they went the entire season not allowing so.
The Gauchos' next match is on Sunday when they host UC Davis for a 1:00 p.m. match at Harder Stadium. Tickets can be purchased here.