AKRON, Ohio – No. 7 UC Santa Barbara was blanked 2-0 by No. 10 Akron on Monday afternoon in the final game in the University of Akron Tournament, handing the Gauchos their first shutout of the season.
The result moved both team's records to 4-2-0 on the season.
Midfielder Adam Najem scored the game-winner for Akron in the 11th minute before Ezena Kahsay netted an insurance goal in the 83rd against UCSB, which played a man down for the final 15 minutes of the contest.
Despite the disadvantage, UCSB ended the game level with Akron at 11 shots apiece. Mac Hermann Trophy Watch List member Nick DePuy and freshman midfielder Daniel Amo tied for the team lead with four shots apiece, but DePuy's strike in the final minutes of the first half – which was turned away by Akron keeper Ben Lundt – was the Gauchos' sole shot on frame for the evening.
Najem's score came on the Zips' first shot of the game. The home team had possession in the box and had a couple looks at goal, but UCSB defenders blocked their first couple of shot attempts.
Unfortunately, the Gauchos were unable to clear the ball out and it eventually found its way to Najem at the top of the 18-yard box. The midfielder took one touch to his left then buried a shot into the top right corner to go up for good.
The Zips' second goal came despite a pair of nice saves in quick succession by UCSB keeper Titouan Le Roux, but Kehsay was able to eventually get his foot on a deflected shot to put his team up 2-0.
Despite giving up a pair of goals, Le Roux had solid night overall with five saves, including a stop of a Najem penalty chance in the 14th minute.
UCSB will return to Santa Barbara this weekend for a showdown with No. 8 UCLA on Saturday night at Harder Stadium. The rivalry match pits the two top-ranked teams on the West Coast per the NSCAA. For tickets, call 805-893-UCSB or click here.