Sept. 8, 2006
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Freshman forward Bongomin Otii scored his fifth goal in five games but it was not enough as Eric Cervantes found the net with 31 seconds to play, leading the 18th-ranked University of Illinois at Chicago to a 2-0 victory over No. 7 UC Santa Barbara Friday night at Harder Stadium. The Gauchos dominated the first half, but allowed two second half goals and fell for the first time this season when playing at home.
With the victory the Flames remain unbeaten at 4-0-1, while the Gauchos dropped to 3-2-0 overall (1-0-0 in the Big West).
In what turned out to be an extremely physical first period, UCSB dominated UIC on both sides of the ball. The Gauchos spent the majority of the half in the Flames' backfield and out-shot the visitors 9-0. A total of 14 fouls were called and three yellow cards were issued in the half.
A little more than two minutes into the second period, Santa Barbara scored the games' first goal and took a 1-0 lead. Senior midfielder Bryan Byrne started the play when he took possession of the ball just past the midfield stripe and took off dribbling down the right wing. He then spun, positioning himself between an Illinois defender and the ball, and found fellow midfielder Eric Avila in the center of the box with a beautiful pass. Avila fired a shot through two defenders in the box but goalkeeper Jovan Bubonja was there to make the save. The rebound bounced out to left side of the box and Otii chipped it in over Bubonja's head for the score.
UCSB's lead held up until UIC answered with the equalizer in the 61st minute. In a sequence that was very similar to the Gauchos' scoring play, forward Brodey Simkins collected a pass just outside the box and shot towards the net. Santa Barbara keeper Kyle Reynish made a diving save to his left, but the ball ricocheted out in front the goal to the left side of the box. Forward Tonci Skroce was there to put in the rebound, tying the score at 1-1.
Santa Barbara had numerous opportunities to respond, but could not push through for the go-ahead score. The Gauchos and Flames battled even for the next 29 minutes, with each keeper making a miraculous save to keep the match knotted at one.
With overtime less than a minute away, a UCSB offensive push was thwarted and UIC took possession of the ball near midfield. Defender Mike Giffin launched a desperation shot from the center circle that went sailing towards the net. Reynish laid out, making a last-second attempt to get a hand on the ball, but it flew over his head, hit the crossbar and bounced straight down and into the box. With Reynish on the ground, Cervantes put in the rebound with 31 seconds left on the clock for the final 2-1 advantage.
The Gauchos had only allowed one goal--in a 1-0 loss to No. 3 Virginia two weeks ago--in four games before Friday's loss. For the match, Santa Barbara out-shot Illinois-Chicago 14-7 and held 3-2 advantage in corner kicks. Reynish finished with three saves.
UCSB now has a week off before returning to pitch for the final game of their current homestand next Friday, September 15 against Loyola Marymount. The Gauchos and Lions will square off at 7:30 p.m. following the women's match with visiting Arizona State slated to kickoff at 5:00 p.m.