SANTA BARBARA, Calif.
– UC Santa Barbara's revamped offense took a while
to get going on Friday night, but when it did, the result was
impressive as the Gauchos scored three second half goals en route
to a 3-0 season-opening win over visiting Cleveland State.
Freshman forward Amanda Ball, a key element in the team's hopes of increased offensive production, scored her first career goal in the 58th minute to give UCSB a 1-0 lead. Savannah Francis slid a pass from left to right through the 18-yard box to Ball who hit a shot into the lower-left portion of the goal, past Viking goalkeeper Sarah Wood, for the first score of the match.
UCSB's second goal came just more than 10 minutes later.
In the 68th minute,
Cleveland State committed a hard foul just outside the upper right
portion of the penalty box. Gaucho senior Indiana Mead
took the free kick from that spot and lined a shot past Wood and
into the right-hand side of the goal, giving UCSB a 2-0
Mead's goal culminated a long stretch of Santa Barbara possession, which was an important factor in the win.
"I thought our possession was really good," said Gaucho head coach Paul Stumpf. "We really wore them (Cleveland State) down and the result was more looks at the goal in the second half."
UCSB's final score came when a pair of freshmen connected.
At the 83:37 mark, Zoe Purcell hit a
looping pass into the center of the box and Brittney
McKinney headed it home over a leaping Wood, giving the Gauchos
the 3-0 lead.
In addition to its solid offensive performance, Santa Barbara had a typically outstanding defensive effort, limiting the Vikings to four shots overall and a mere two on-goal.
"Our transition to defense was good and we really limited their looks at the goal," Stumpf said. "This was a great start for us. The team played well and that is what you want in an opener."
Junior goalkeeper Beth Ritter needed only two saves to record her ninth career shutout. Late in the match, she was faced with a one-on-one challenge from Cleveland State forward Allie Sieradzki and she stonewalled her, coming well off of her line to produce the save.
The Gauchos went deep into their bench in the win. They used 23 players and seem well-prepared for their Sunday afternoon matchup against Southern Utah.
"We probably used 20 or more players tonight," Stumpf said. "We are hoping for fresh legs on Sunday, so, the chance to win AND use that many players was really important."
UCSB will host Southern Utah in a noon match on Meredith Field at Harder Stadium on Sunday. Tickets can be purchased at the stadium one hour prior to kickoff. They can also be bought on-line by clicking here.