Gauchos Pull Past Westmont in Exhibition Opener

Shaelan Murison scored the game-winning goal late in the second half on Wednesday night. (Photo by Even Kokoska)
Shaelan Murison scored the game-winning goal late in the second half on Wednesday night. (Photo by Even Kokoska)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – In the first test of the season, the UC Santa Barbara women's soccer team poured in a trio of goals, including two near the end of the second half, to pull away from Westmont College in an exhibition at Harder Stadium on Wednesday night.

The Gauchos dominated possession from the start but were unable to capitalize on a handful of opportunities in the early going. In just the third minute of the match, UCSB punched in what appeared to be the go-ahead goal off the foot of Sophia Villalta, but an offside call would negate the score.

Midway through the first half, Westmont had its best look at goal as Santa Barbara, Calif. native Jackie Lopez lobbed a shot from nearly 40 yards out that sent Gaucho keeper Brittney Rogers in a full extension dive to deflect the ball away.

Still scoreless entering the 40th minute, freshman Cate Post would break the tie with a goal in her collegiate debut. Sophomore transfer Colby Parker crossed the ball into the box from the left side of the pitch and Post quickly turned and fired a shot to the left corner of the goal to put the Gauchos ahead 1-0.

In the second half, Westmont came out strong and converted the equalizer as Lopez fielded a through ball from Maddi Berthoud and was able to sneak a shot past the charging UCSB goalie.

The Warriors kept up the pressure after tying the match and nearly knocked in a pair of chances that saw the ball bounce around in the box, but the Gauchos defense held strong.

UCSB regained its composure along with its stronghold on possession and powered in a pair of goals within minutes to put the match out of reach.

In the 78th minute, freshman Christine Mauer made her mark with a cross into the box that All-Big West Freshman Team selection from a year ago, Shaelan Murison, volleyed into the back of the net.

No more than two minutes later, two-time All-Big West honoree Mallory Hromatko got in on the action with a goal of her own on a powerful kick from the right corner of the box.

The Gauchos outshot Westmont 18-6, including a 13-4 advantage in the second half and were led by eight shots from Murison. Hromatko tallied three while Eva Buechler finished with two shots, both of which were on target.

In goal, Rogers and Maddie Julian led the Gauchos with two saves apiece while Gabi Haw notched three for the Warriors. Both teams had a trio of goalkeepers see action between the posts.

UCSB is slated for another exhibition match at home this Saturday, Aug. 12 at 7:00 p.m. against North Texas with the regular season opener set for Friday, Aug. 18 against Idaho at 7:00 p.m.