SANTA BARBRA, Calif. – A penalty kick goal in the 76th minute by Sam Harder proved to be the decisive score as visiting No. 19 Denver edged UC Santa Barbara on Sunday, 2-1.
The Pioneers (9-1-1) got on the scoreboard first. At the 17:44 mark Brooke Boothe collected a corner kick from Nicholette Digiacomo, settled it and lofted it over Gauchos' (6-4-1) goalkeeper Beth Ritter to make it 1-0.
UCSB tied the score at 51:30 when Savannah Francis played a ball to Madison Beckley above the right side of the penalty box. Beckley took a couple dribbles and then rifled a shot from just outside the box, into the upper-left portion of the goal, past Denver goalkeeper Amelia Davis. The goal was Beckley's team-leading ninth of the season.
The Pioneers had several opportunities to break the 1-1 tie, the most dangerous coming in the 72nd minute when a shot by Anna Willis ricocheted off the crossbar. Shannen Johnson followed Willis' shot with one of her own, but it was blocked by Ritter and a third attempt, by Sara Riazi, went wide.
Just a few minutes later Denver's Kristen Hamilton went down in the penalty box and the referee whistled a Gaucho for a foul to set-up the game-winning goal by Harder.
Santa Barbara had a 7-3 advantage in shots through the first half, but Denver had a 12-1 edge in the second 45-minutes. The Pioneers also had the edge in corner kicks, 6-2, including 4-0 in the second half. Beckley finished with a game-high four shots, three of which were on frame.
UCSB opens Big West Conference play on Friday, Oct. 4 with a 5:00 p.m. game against UC Irvine at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. The game will precede a Gaucho men's match against Cal State Fullerton. The women's team will also play at home on Sunday, Oct. 6 when it hosts Long Beach State at 1:00 p.m.