Nov. 11, 2009
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Junior Michael Boxall's header in the 72nd minute propelled No. 1 seeded UC Santa Barbara (15-3-2) to a 1-0 victory over No. 4 seed Cal State Northridge (10-8-2) on Wednesday night in a Big West Tournament semifinal game at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium.
The Gauchos will host No. 3 seed UC Irvine in the tournament's championship game on Saturday evening and the winner will receive the Big West's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Heading into the final 20 minutes, the game was deadlocked at 0-0. UCSB was awarded a foul outside the Matadors' 18 just right of the penalty box. Luis Silva volleyed the ball into the area and CSUN goalkeeper Michael Abalos was able to make the save. Unfortunately for the Matadors, he was unable to control the ball, pushing it to his right where Boxall was able to make contact with the deflected ball, heading it in for his first career-goal and the game-winner.
Northridge out-shot the Gauchos 6-0 in the remaining minutes, but Gaucho goalkeeper Sam Hayden was able to easily save the three shots that came on-goal.
"In the second half, we took over the game and did a very good job of creating opportunities," said head coach Tim Vom Steeg after the match.
The 1-0 win marked Hayden's 14th shutout of the season; setting a new UCSB single season shutouts record and surpassing Dan Kennedy's previous record of 13, set during the 2004 season. As a team, the Gauchos would need just one more shutout to tie the school record of 15 in a season, also set during the 2004 season. Hayden recorded a career-high tying six saves in the win.
The game was a physical one with 45 fouls called between the two teams and a total of eight yellow cards handed out.
Saturday's championship pairing is a rematch of last season's inaugural tournament title game. UC Irvine advanced to the final after defeating Cal Poly 2-1 in overtime on Wednesday night. The Gauchos, who won the 2009 regular season Big West title, will play the Anteaters at 7 p.m.
To purchase tickets, call (805) 893-UCSB, visit the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or click here.
UCSB students can get their hands on tickets for the Big West Championship game by attending the men's basketball game against Cal State Los Angeles at 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Thunderdome. The first 1,000 UCSB students in the door at basketball will get a free ticket to the championship soccer match.
Saturday's game will be broadcast live on KIST 1490 AM and will also be available online here.