Junior Waid Ibrahim scored in the 105th minute of the Thursday's NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship First Round game, propelling UC Santa Barbara (14-4-3) to a 1-0 victory over Denver (9-7-4) at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium.
The win sends UCSB to the NCAA Second Round for the ninth consecutive season. The Gauchos will travel to Berkeley on Sunday to face No. 6 seeded Cal (12-2-3), which earned an automatic berth into the tournament after winning the Pac-10 title. Game time is set for 1:30 pm.
The game-winning play began when junior Danny Barrera's pass up top was deflected by a Denver defender to Ibrahim, who scored with a shot from 16 yards out.
Ibrahim's goal was the first of the season for the sophomore, who has seen limited playing time due to an ongoing heart condition. The forward was making just his fifth appearance this year and his first since the Oct. 2 game against UC Davis. He had entered the game just five minutes prior to scoring his game-clinching goal.
"Waid can shoot the ball and he had one look and he buried it," said head coach Tim Vom Steeg. "I knew it (the goal) was going to come. I knew that somebody would find a way to bury something tonight."
UCSB, which has led its opponents in shots in its last 24 contests, posted a 31-4 shot advantage during the match, tying the Gauchos' season-high for shots and season-best for opponent's shots. Of the 16 players that entered the match for UCSB, 11 recorded at least one shot. Barrera led all players with five shots and three on-frame.
Denver goalkeeper Joe Willis was solid in the goal, making 10 saves during the match. One of his more impressive saves came in the 11th minute when Barrera crossed the ball to the far left post on a corner kick. Chris Hunter headed the ball towards the Denver goal from the left post, but Willis punched it out to keep the Gauchos off the scoreboard.
It was another defender that provided the next great Gaucho opportunity in the 35th minute when Michael Boxall shot to the far side of the goal from 20 yards out. The shot hit the right corner of the cross bar - just inches from going in - before deflecting out of bounds.
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In the second half, Sam Garza had a pair of great opportunities come up short. In the 58th minute, the sophomore got open inside the box and took a shot that deflected off the left post. Just a minute later, he led two defenders to the right side of the field before cutting to the middle. He sent a low shot to the far side of the goal, which was blocked by Willis with a diving save.
In goal for the Gauchos, senior Sam Hayden had to make just one save to record his 25th career shutout and ninth of the season.
The match-up between the Gauchos and Pioneers was the only first round game to require extra time on Thursday and was the eighth to be decided by one goal. With the win, UCSB improves to 3-3-3 in overtime games.
"As I have said over and over again, you don't want to bet against this group," said Vom Steeg. "I think that there is an inherent advantage sometimes when you get that first game out of the way. I thought both teams were nervous when we started tonight. Now, we have been tested, we have tasted defeat right in front of us, so now we go up to Cal with very little to lose."
Tickets to Sunday's match at Cal are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors (65 and older), youth (2 years to 12th grade) and students (with a college ID). Cal will accept cash only and there will be no advance ticket sales. The entire venue is general admission and sales booths can be located on both the north and south sides of the stadium.
UCSB is the proud host of the 2010 NCAA Men's College Cup, which will take place Dec. 10 and 12 at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. This marks the first time since the 2004 season that the Cup has been held on the West Coast. All-Session passes for the College Cup can be purchased by calling (805) 893-UCSB, visiting the Ticket Office located inside the Intercollegiate Athletics building on campus or buy online by clicking here.