Dec. 2, 2007
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Leading 3-1 eight minutes into the second half, No. 12 seed UC Santa Barbara gave up three straight goals and fell 4-3 in double overtime at No. 5 seed Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament Third Round Sunday afternoon.
Alfonso Motagalvan and Nick Perera found the net and UCSB got an own goal to score three times against an OSU team that had allowed a total of just three goals in its last 12 matches, but it was not enough to defeat the Buckeyes. Defender Eric Brunner scored twice and Eric Edwards and Andrew Magill also added goals to lead Ohio State's incredible comeback on a wet field at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
"Obviously the story for us will be having a 3-1 lead in the second half on the road and not being able to finish," two-time NSCAA Coach of the Year Tim Vom Steeg said. "We felt like we had this game won when we went up 3-1 and had several opportunities to go ahead 4-1 or 5-1. But they got that second goal and that was the turning point in the game. The second goal gives them energy and we let it get away. I take my hat off to Ohio State and wish them well going forward."
The Buckeyes improved to 15-3-5 overall and will advance to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals for the first time in program history. OSU, who has now gone unbeaten in its last 13 matches, will host Bradley in an Elite Eight match next weekend. Ohio State is the last remaining seed in its half of the bracket.
After advancing to a fourth Sweet 16 in the last five years, UCSB's season ends at 13-4-4 overall.
Just like they did against Washington in the second round Wednesday night, the Gauchos drew first blood early in the match Sunday. After a Buckeye foul, midfielder Ciaran O'Brien took a free kick from 25 yards out and sent a towering shot over the wall. Goalkeeper Casey Latchem made a diving save going to his left, but didn't control the loose ball and Motagalvan was there to punch in the rebound for the 1-0 lead 4:48 into the match.
The goal was Motagalvan's fifth this season and he finished the season tied with Tino Nuñez for third on the team.
After several missed opportunities, OSU answered with the equalizer at the 24:31 mark when Brunner hammered a low free kick through a crowded box and inside the right post to tie the game at 1-1.
Santa Barbara then took a 2-1 lead after an Ohio State own goal in the 32nd minute. O'Brien took another free kick, this time from 50 yards out on the right sideline and sent the ball over the wall and into the box. A Buckeye defender tried to clear, but his header hit the crossbar and bounced down past the goal line at 31:06.
Unsettled defensively for much of the first half, UCSB fought off several attacks from OSU and took the 2-1 advantage into the locker room at the break. The Gauchos took nine first half shots, while the Buckeyes finished with 10.
The defending champs needed just 7:54 into the second half to take a 3-1 lead, getting a goal from Perera in the 53rd minute. O'Brien played a ball up to Perera on the right side, where the native from Madrid, Spain took two dribbles towards the end line, crossed over to beat a defender and looped an arcing shot inside the left post for what seemed like an insurmountable two-goal lead.
Perera finishes his junior campaign with three goals, sixth on the squad. Four of his 10 career goals have come in NCAA Tournament play.
The Buckeyes would score the next three goals, however, with the first coming roughly 13 minutes later. Forward Xavier Balc took one of the Buckeye's seven corner kicks on the afternoon and sent a ball into the box for defender Doug Verhoff. His header was blocked, but Edwards, who had entered the match just seconds earlier, got a foot on it and finished the play to ignite the OSU crowd and begin the comeback.
Energized by their second goal and the cheers of the 643 fans that were in attendance, the Buckeyes came right back and tied the game at 3-3 just 3:23 seconds later. After a UCSB handball just outside the box, Brunner lined up for the free again and fired through the wall and past goalkeeper Bryant Rueckner at the 69:01 mark.
Both teams had several opportunities in the final 20 minutes of regulation. The Gauchos could not capitalize on a 2v2 with Eric Avila and O'Brien 64th minute and, with Latchem out of position, Brunner made an excellent stop on the goal line to deny the potential go-ahead goal from Jon Curry 20 minutes later.
Despite giving up two goals in the second half, UCSB outshot OSU 10-9 in the second stanza.
The Gauchos missed their opportunities in the first overtime period as well, as Latchem came up with saves on shots by Avila and O'Brien. Santa Barbara outshot Ohio State 3-1 in the first overtime period.
The home team needed just 3:16 in the second overtime to score the game-winner. After a miss-touch in the UCSB backfield, midfielder Matt Gold dribbled into the box and left the ball off for Edwards, who was trailing on his left. Rueckner denied Edward's initial attempt, but Magill came rushing in to finish the play at the goal line to cap off the come-from-behind win and end the Gauchos' season.
UCSB outshot the Buckeyes 23-21 for the game, but OSU held a 7-5 advantage on corner kicks. Three of Ohio State's four goals came on set pieces.
Latchem finished with seven saves for the Buckeyes, while Rueckner recorded just one in his second-career NCAA Tournament match.
Sunday's match featured 31 fouls and a total of seven yellow cards. Both benches were issued a caution in a very hotly-contested match.