Sept. 29, 2010
FULLERTON, Calif. - Cal State Fullerton's Antonio Vernaschi scored the golden goal with just 26 seconds left on the clock in the first overtime period to propel the Titans to a 1-0 victory over visiting No. 17 UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday evening at Titan Stadium in both team's Big West Conference opener.
Eric Escobedo assisted the game-winning goal when he crossed the ball into the area on a corner kick. Vernaschi's right foot connected with the loose ball as it bounced around in the goalmouth to provide the game-winning strike.
With the loss, UCSB falls to 3-3-2 on the season and 0-1 in Big West play. Fullerton improves to 2-4-2 overall and to 1-0 in conference. The loss snaps the Gauchos' 11 game winning streak against the Titans; their last loss to the program was on Oct. 25, 2003.
Even though they came away with the loss, the Gauchos dominated the match, out-shooting the Titans 22-8 with a 10-8 shots-on-goal advantage. UCSB had a 12-1 advantage in corner kicks. Fullerton goalkeeper Trevor Whiddon played a huge role in keeping his team in the game, making 10 saves for the Titans.
The UCSB offense got rolling early, in just the fifth minute, Fifi Baiden played a ball over the top of Danny Barrera who crossed it to his right to Michael Boxall, whose shot went just wide to right of the goal.
Just a few minutes later, Sam Garza got hold of the ball and carried it down the left side of the field before passing to David Opoku, who kicked the ball backwards. James Kiffe received the pass and fired a shot that Whiddon was able to catch low.
In the 15th minute, Oscar Aguero took Fullerton's first shot of the game when, in an attempt to clear the ball out of the box, the Gaucho defense sent it straight to Aguero, but his shot from the smack-dab in the middle of the box sailed high over the crossbar.
Over the next 10 minutes, UCSB had several opportunities to score. Garza had a shot go wide right and then, a minute later, Opoku passed to Peter McGlynn, who saw his shot from inside the box go high over the cage. Garza kept plugging away and got two more shots on-frame in the half, both of which were saved by Whiddon.
In the 36th minute, Luis Silva had a great look, but his cross-goal shot from just outside the box bounced off the left post. Whiddon made two more saves - punching out Tim Pontius' attempt from 30-yards out and blocking a Gaucho free kick in the final two minutes ¬- to preserve the 0-0 tie at halftime.
The Gauchos picked up where they left off in the second half and came out firing on all cylinders. Within the first three minutes, Barrera and Silva each got a shot-off. Whiddon continued his impressive play, though, and made several impressive stops to keep the game scoreless.
With just over 13 minutes remaining in regulation, Jonathan Brit tripped Garza, resulting in a yellow card for the Titan. As the Gauchos prepared for the free kick, Garza was given a red card when things got contentious in front of the goal.
Down a man, UCSB still managed to control possession for most of the remainder of the game. UCSB had one last chance to strike with 11 minutes to go when Michael Nonni crossed the ball to Opoku, who headed it just over the top of the cross bar.
The Titans had two shots in overtime before they scored the game-clincher with 26 seconds to go.
Silva led all players with five shots during the game and had two on-frame and Barrera had four shots with three on-frame.
In goal, Sam Hayden was only called on to make two saves. The senior was awarded a red card after disputing no fouls being called on the final play with the referee and will be forced to sit out the Gauchos' next game along with Garza.
The Gauchos will continue Big West play on Saturday when they return home to Meredith Field at Harder Stadium to host UC Davis. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.
To purchase tickets to Saturday's match, please call (805) 893-UCSB, visit the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or buy online by clicking here.
UCSB is the proud host of 2010 Men's College Cup, which is being held on Dec. 10-12 at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium.
If you would like to purchase your tickets for the 2010 Men's College Cup, or for more information, please call (805) 893-UCSB, visit the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or buy online by clicking here.