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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 11:07 am | Fair 63º

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Ahinga Selamani’s Goal Lifts UCSB Over Sacramento St.; Gauchos Clinch Division Title

Ahinga Selamani scored the game winner for UCSB at Sacramento State Click to view larger
Ahinga Selamani scored the game winner for UCSB at Sacramento State (Noozhawk File Photo)

Ahinga Selamani scored in the 81st minute to snap a scoreless draw, and UC Santa Barbara made the goal stand up and defeated Sacramento State, 1-0, to wrap up the program's fourth consecutive Big West North Division title and earn a bye in the first round of the Big West Tournament.

UCSB improves to 6-0-3 in the Big West and 10-5-3 overall after Wednesday's win in Sacramento.

The red-hot Selamani, who entered the game with four goals and nine points in his last six games, collected a pass from Jan Ilskens above the box and drilled a left-footed shot into the top right corner for his seventh goal of the year and conference-leading fourth game-winner.

With the division crown, the Gauchos earn a bye in the conference tournament. Their first game will be played at Harder Stadium on Wednesday, Nov. 9 against the winner of the quarterfinal game between the second seed in the South and the third seed in the North.

The Gauchos got a stellar defensive effort in nailing down their fifth shutout of the year despite being down two starters on the backline:  back Randy Mendoza (yellow card accumulation) and center back Daniel Amo (injury).

UCSB managed an aggressive and high-pressing Sacramento State (8-7-2, 4-4-1) team that knew it needed a win to stay alive in the North title hunt. The Gauchos pulled out all the stops in the final 20 minutes of the game, including moving All-American forward Nick DePuy to center back,  and held the Hornets to extend their shutout streak to a season-long 285:22 minutes.

The Hornets' two best chances down the stretch came on Andrew Gosselin's near-range header r and Alex Bettencourt's free kick from 22 yards that curled wide in the dying seconds of the game

UCSB goalie Titouan Le Roux, who has played an NCAA-high 1698:12 minutes made four saves in the match.

The Gauchos have won 10 games in 16 consecutive seasons. They wrap up their regular season schedule against UC Davis at Harder Stadium on Sunday afternoon, with kickoff scheduled for 2 p.m.

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