Gauchos Beat Bears with Early Goal, Achieve Third Straight Clean Sheet

Shaelan Murison celebrates her goal in the 4th minute vs Brown (Photo courtesy of Brian Edwards)
Shaelan Murison celebrates her goal in the 4th minute vs Brown (Photo courtesy of Brian Edwards)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Since allowing a goal to Sacramento State in the 58th minute of their season opener in Las Vegas, the UC Santa Barbara women's soccer team has shut out opponents for 320 minutes and 35 seconds of play.

Sunday afternoon's 1-0 victory over Brown University became the latest addition to that tally, as a goal from junior forward Shaelan Murison in the 4th minute of play ended up being what separated both teams in the afternoon affair.

UCSB allowed only seven shots and four corner kicks, with freshman goalkeeper Natalie Hill required to make four saves to earn the Gauchos their third consecutive clean sheet.

From the opening whistle, the Gaucho attack peppered Brown's senior goalkeeper Christine Etzel with shots, with Murison and senior right back Mallory Hromatko forcing a pair of saves in the opening minutes of play.

Then, junior winger Katherine Sheehy received a pass from junior defender Sophia Dertorossian after the Bears cleared a Gaucho corner, which she sent up to Hromatko on the right wing. The Gaucho right back carried it to the endline and sent in a cross to the left side of the penalty area, which Murison buried with a first time shot into the top right corner to give UCSB the lead.

Brown responded with some offensive activity of their own by earning three corner kicks and recording two shots on target within the span of a few minutes, but the home side's defense held their own and kept the Bears away from goal.

The game turned heavily in the Gauchos' favor as the first half carried on, and they went into the break with 11 shots and an equal amount of corner kicks as the attack created chances throughout.

As close as the Gauchos came to adding another goal to their tally, they found it hard to break through against Etzel and the rigid shape of the Brown defense. As the Bears' starter in goal for the last three years, Etzel entered the 2018 season for Brown with a goals-against average under 1.

Head Coach Paul Stumpf said "I was very happy with the set pieces. I thought the service was very good, I thought we were very dangerous on them. You've got to give [Etzel] a whole lot of credit for keeping them in that game."

UCSB continued to create opportunities as the game continued, as Hromatko nearly found the second goal two minutes after halftime in what was the first of eight shots the Gauchos would take in the second half.

In the final twenty minutes of the match, the Bears urgently pushed forward in search of the equalizer. Hill's save on Cummings' shot in the 72nd minute and the ensuing corner kick were the best opportunities for the visitors, but Dertorossian and freshman center back Lauren Hess remained in control cutting out passes, sticking to their markers, and denying Brown opportunities to advance into the final third as the game ended in favor of the Gauchos.

"She's a competitive young lady, which I really like, and we need that grit back there right now," Stumpf said as he praised Hess' performances over the weekend.

Since conceding the goal to Sacramento State in the second half of their season opener, the Gauchos have scored 12 goals and allowed none.

This is the second time in three years that UCSB begins the season with a 4-0 record, and only the second time since 1993 when the Gauchos went 13-6-0 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

The Gauchos begin a five-game road trip on Friday, August 31 at the University of San Francisco, with their matchup with the Dons beginning at 7:00 p.m. Live stats can be found by visiting UCSBGauchos.com.