Sept. 2, 2007
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Grant Lundberg scored the game's only goal in the 82nd minute to send visiting Gonzaga to a 1-0 win over No. 1 UC Santa Barbara Sunday afternoon at Harder Stadium. The Gauchos dominated the Bulldogs for the duration of the match, recording a 19-8 shot advantage but struggled to find the net all afternoon in a tough loss.
With victory, Gonzaga improves to 1-1-0 on the young season, while the defending champions' record now stands at 0-1-1.
Harder Stadium has traditionally been a very difficult place for opponents to play and the Gauchos entered Sunday's contest with a seven game home win streak. UCSB's last home loss was a 3-1 defeat at the hands of UCLA October 5, 2006.
Santa Barbara controlled possession for the duration of the first half and had a couple of excellent scoring opportunities. In the seventh minute, senior Tino Nuñez centered a ball for Nick Perera, who gathered himself and fired a rocket towards the net, but Bulldog goalkeeper Vito Higgins was there for the save. Roughly six minutes later Perera had another look from 30 yards out, but Higgins made the stop diving to his left.
The Gauchos out-shot the Bulldogs 6-3 in the first 45 minutes, with Gonzaga's first shot of the game coming in the 25th minute.
UCSB continued to dictate things on the field after intermission, continuing its aggressive play on the offensive end. Nuñez had one of the best opportunities of the afternoon at the 56:00 minute mark. After sophomore midfielder Ciaran O'Brien won a ball on the left side of the field, he sent a high cross into the box. Nuñez leaped and sent a header towards the goal, only to have his shot bounce off the cross bar. Perera missed another opportunity minutes later when he took a ball Nuñez had played forward and crossed over heading into the box, before his attempt missed wide right.
The Bulldogs finally broke the scoreless tie at the 81:35 mark. After thwarting a Gaucho offensive push, midfielder John Palladino carried the ball upfield on the right side and played it to his left for 2007 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Candidate George Josten. Santa Barbara defender Martin Hedevag cut off Jostne's angle towards the goal and got a foot on the ball, but it ricocheted directly to Lundberg who was trailing the play on the left. All alone in front of Gaucho keeper Bryant Rueckner, Lundberg slipped a low shot past him and just inside the left post for the eventual game-winner.
UCSB had a great shot at equalizing on the ensuing possession when senior forward Andrew Proctor slipped the ball through the Gonzaga backline in the box. He found a streaking Perera to his left, but a Bulldog defender recovered to clear the ball off the goal line and preserve the win for the visitors.
13 of the Gauchos' 19 shots came in the decisive second half. Nuñez led the way with six shots, while Perera had five, three of which were on frame, and junior midfielder Eric Avila had three.
Higgins was outstanding between the posts for Gonzaga, recording five saves. At the other end, Rueckner needed to make just one, charging a ball in the waning moments that would have given the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.
The Gauchos will look for their first victory of 2007 when they return to action Friday, September 7, when the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee comes to town. Kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. at Harder Stadium.