SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara parlayed the return of a key player and two second half goals into a 2-0 Big West win over visiting UC Riverside on Sunday evening.
Sophomore midfielder Erica Shelton returned to the lineup after missing the last four games. Prior to her departure due to a knee injury, UCSB put together a season-long three-game unbeaten streak and Shelton was named Big West Offensive Player of the Week. In her absence, the Gauchos lost four straight, all by one goal, and scored just two.
"She's such an intelligent player," said UCSB head coach Paul Stumpf. "She is not very tall and not super athletic, but her soccer IQ and her technical ability are what make the difference. Once she got in the speed of things, she made a big difference for us. And I think her teammates love seeing her out there."
While Shelton didn't score in the win, she kept her team on the attack and the payoff was two second half scores.
An outstanding individual effort by junior midfielder Erin Ortega allowed the Gauchos to break a scoreless tie in the 51st minute.
After a UCSB attack, the Highlanders attempted the clear the ball, but Ortega made an athletic play to intercept the pass, drove into the box where she was left unmarked, and blasted a shot from about 15 yards, into the left post. It was Ortega's third goal of the season.
The Gauchos added an insurance goal at the 79:01 mark. Junior forward Dyanne Anderson drove down the left side of the box and made a centering pass. The ball was deflected by a Riverside defender and UCSB freshman Indiana Mead was right there, driving a shot past goalkeeper Sara Slaughter from about eight yards out.
The Highlanders were not without chances of their own, but the Gauchos' defense and sophomore goalkeeper Makenna Henry were up to the task.
Early in the match, Riverside's Lindsey Ahmed cracked a powerful shot from just above the penalty box. Henry made an acrobatic leap and, fully outstretched, poked the ball off the crossbar, preserving the shutout.
Later in the first half, there was a flurry of threats right in front of the goal box. Alexandra Quincey's header was saved by Henry, a follow by Andrea Luttio hit the crossbar and then another Luttio shot was also saved by the Gaucho keeper. Henry finished with seven saves on the evening. Slaughter had the same save total for the Highlanders.
UCSB outshot Riverside by a 17-12 count. Shelton led the way with six shots, two of which were on frame. Ahmed had a trio of shots for UCR, two on goal.
The win improves the Gauchos record to 6-9-2 overall and 1-4 in the Big West. The Highlanders drop to 7-7-1 overall and 2-2 in league play.
UCSB travels north to play Pacific and UC Davis next weekend. The Gauchos play at Pacific on Friday, Oct. 21 at 7:00 p.m. and then at Davis on Sunday, Oct. 23 at 1:00 p.m. They will return home for their final regular season game on Friday, Oct. 28 for a 7:00 p.m. game against Cal Poly.
Tickets are available from the Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805-893-UCSB or online by clicking here.