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Defense Keys UCSB Soccer Win Over Potent Portland Squad

In its last tune-up before conference play,  Ignacio Tellechea headed in the game-winner in the 69th minute on a cross from Noah Billingsley and the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team shut out a potent Portland squad 1-0 on Saturday night at Harder Stadium.

Portland (4-3), who is receiving votes in the latest United Soccer Coaches Poll, boasts one of the top offenses in the nation, averaging nearly three goals per game (2.83) while ranking fourth in the nation in both shots on goal per game (8.17) and points per game (8.33).

"That's a very good team we played tonight," said head coach Tim Vom Steeg. "It's also a team that's top-5, top-10 in every category offensively in the country, so to get a shutout tonight is a big accomplishment."

Just one week removed from its first win, after upsetting No. 14 Pacific last Friday, UCSB continued its impressive play and matched the Pilots shot-for-shot in both the first and second half.

Portland nearly converted on a few close opportunities in the first half from its top players Benji Michel and Rey Ortiz, but the Gaucho defense was tough all night posting their fourth shutout of the season while not allowing a shot on goal for the second straight game.

In the second half, UCSB broke the scoreless tie in the 69th minute when Billingsley, from the left side of the pitch, lobbed a perfect ball to Tellechea who headed it into the left corner of the goal past the keeper.

Portland made a late push, and tallied seven second-half corners, including four in a row at one point, but the Gauchos held on for the win.

UCSB and Portland both finished with 11 shots apiece while the Pilots edged the Gauchos 10-4 in corners. Making his UCSB debut, Sahid Conteh tied for team-high honors with two shots alongside Kaya Fabbretti. The goal was Tellechea's third on the year to lead the team.  

"Momentum is huge," Vom Steeg said. "We had a week to prepare for this game, we played a good game and did the right things, so now we have to take this into conference."

The Gauchos (2-4-2) open Big West action on Thursday, Sept. 28 against Cal State Fullerton (5-3-1) at 7:00 p.m. at Harder Stadium.

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