Gauchos Fall to Cal State Fullerton in Penalty Kicks

Kaya Fabbretti (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Kaya Fabbretti (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – For the second consecutive season, the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team will exit the Big West Tournament in the first round after No. 6 seed Cal State Fullerton upset the Gauchos in penalty kicks (5-3) after the teams were locked up at 1-1 through 110 minutes of play.

It was just the second time that UCSB (10-6-2) has gone into overtime at Harder Stadium this season, both times against Fullerton, while the Titans (7-5-8) were playing in their 11th extra time affair of the year. The reigning Big West Tournament champion Titans defeated UC Davis in penalty kicks in last year's final, and have now topped the Gauchos in three straight tournament appearances at Harder Stadium.

On Wednesday night, the Gauchos came out aggressive and had a lot of promising attacks early on, but it was the Titans that would strike first.

In the 24th minute, Ross McPhie threaded a ball through the UCSB defense to Christian Pinzon on the left side, who just did sneak the ball under keeper Ben Roach for the score that ricocheted off the post and in.

It did not take long for the Gauchos to respond as Ignacio Tellechea found the back of the net just three minutes later. Sahid Conteh played the ball ahead to Thibault Candia on the right side, who sent the ball across the box to a running Tellechea, who knocked it in from point blank range.

UCSB had a handful of close looks for the remainder of the match, as CSF went to a defensive game plan, but the Gauchos could not find a game winner and ended up in a penalty kick shootout.

The Titans did not miss any of their five chances, but Roach nearly knocked two balls away, one of which deflected off the post and rolled back into the goal.

After both teams made their first two shots, Tellechea stepped up and fired his shot just off the top of the crossbar and out.

It was a heartbreaking loss for the Gauchos who dominated the second half and outshot Fullerton 18-7 while both teams generated five corner kicks apiece. Tellechea and Michael led UCSB with five shots each while Roach finished with a pair of saves.