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Josue España Delivers Game Winner in UCSB Soccer Opener

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Just six days after scoring a pair of goals against Westmont, UC Santa Barbara senior midfielder Josue España found the back of the net again in Friday's regular season opener against Oakland, helping secure a 2-1 victory in the first game of the Wolstein Classic, hosted by Ohio State.

España scored the game-winner in the 76th minute. Dalton Pando started a play from the right side, putting a ball into the box that rattled around until España was able to get a foot on it. His first drive at net was blocked, but he calmly collected his own rebound and put it away just below the bar to make the No. 13-ranked Gauchos winners. 

Josue España scored in the 76th minute to lift UCSB over Oakland University in the Gauchos’ season opener in Ohio. Click to view larger
Josue España scored in the 76th minute to lift UCSB over Oakland University in the Gauchos’ season opener in Ohio. (JC Corliss/Noozhawk file photo)

The Gauchos put the clamps down defensively the rest of the match, not allowing Oakland to record a shot until the dying seconds of the contest.

The victory was UCSB's sixth straight on opening day. The Gauchos now have just one opening day loss over the last 11 years. 

In a dominant first half for UCSB, freshman midfielder Daniel Amo scored in the fifth minute. They would have had a larger lead heading into the locker room, but two shots banged off the goal post and Golden Grizzlies keeper Zach Walker came up with a pair of big saves.

UCSB All-American striker Nick DePuy helped create the opening goal from Amo, starting the play by holding up before finding junior midfielder Kevin Feucht coming up the field. Feucht was able to lay a pass down the right side for freshman defender Mateo Restrepo Mejia, and the Tortonto FC Academy product drilled a perfect cross into the box. Amo was able to tap it in to put the Gauchos up 1-0.

That was one of multiple chances for UCSB in the first half, which had shots from Ahinga Selemani and Pando glance off the post. DePuy and Feucht each had a good look at goal that was snuffed out by Walker. 

Oakland's Austin Ricci leveled the score early in the second half.

Oakland's top goalscorer a season ago didn't start the match but he made his presence felt just after play resumed following halftime. He capitalized on a UCSB turnover in the midfield for the goal. His blast from the left edge of the 18-yard box beat UCSB keeper Titouan Le Roux. 

With the score tied, UCSB wasn't able to reproduce its first-half offensive prowess, mustering just two shots over the first 30 minutes of the frame.

UCSB will return to action on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. PT, taking on host Ohio State in the final game of the Wolstein Classic.

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