Aug. 29, 2008
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Freshman defender Alyssa Benjamin picked a perfect time to score the first goal of her UC Santa Barbara career.
Benjamin tallied the game-winner in the 90th-minute on Friday evening, breaking a scoreless tie and leading the Gauchos to a 1-0 win over 13th-ranked (Soccer Buzz) University of San Diego in UCSB's home opener at Harder Stadium.
"My first year, my first home match," Benjamin said. "It's pretty exciting."
Benjamin attempted a header after a corner kick, but the shot was deflected by a defender to sophomore forward Kylie McDonald. McDonald got the ball back to Benjamin at 12 yards out, directly in front of the goal. The Petaluma, Calif., native quickly settled it and drove a shot that hit the underside of the crossbar before bouncing in at the 89:19 mark.
Benjamin's game-winning score ended a taut defensive struggle. The teams combined for just 15 total shots, only three of which were on-goal. UCSB had 10 of the shots, and each goalkeeper produced just one save. Sophomore Tammy Lenham recorded her first shutout of the season for the Gauchos.
The Toreros narrowly missed scoring on two second half occasions. In the 53rd-minute Amy Epsten slashed her way down the left side of the box, beat a defender and then booted a shot past a diving Lenham. The shot, however, deflected off the right goal post and the match remained tied. USD's second narrow miss came in the 86th-minute when Natalie Vinti hit the crossbar on a shot.
Benjamin's goal was the sixth of the season for Santa Barbara, the third by a freshman. UCSB used 18 players in the match while San Diego used just 15. In fact, six different Torero players played the entire match and three others played at least 80 minutes.
"We just kept wearing them down with all the players we shuttled in," said UCSB head coach Paul Stumpf. "This is a deep team and we've shown that in our first three matches."
UCSB is now 2-1 on the season, the only blemish a 2-1 defeat at second-ranked UCLA. San Diego, which lost 1-0 in overtime to top-ranked USC, drops to 0-2 on the year.
The Gauchos will play another West Coast Conference school on Sunday, Aug. 31 when they travel to Malibu for a match against Pepperdine.