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Soccer

UCSB Scores Quick, Rolls Past Pitt for 4th Straight Win

A red-hot UC Santa Barbara women's soccer team scored 46 seconds into Friday afternoon's non-conference tilt against Pitt, then poured on three more goals to make it a 4-0 blowout to extend the team's best start to a season in more than 20 years.

With the win, the Gauchos improved to 4-0-0 on the year which equals their best start to a campaign since 1993 (5-0). UCSB was extremely opportunistic against the Panthers (1-3-1), scoring their four goals on just eight shots for a 50 percent shooting percentage that would have made an NBA team proud.

"This was a great win for our program," said head coach Paul Stumpf. "To beat a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is very important for us. That is one of the best leagues in the nation and an ACC win is huge."

Junior midfielder Chace Shornstein opened the scoring in the very first minute, finishing off a cross from Mallory Hromatko for her first goal of the season. Hromatko added a score of her own before the 20-minute mark and then Amanda Ball notched goals in the 29th and 52nd minutes for her team-leading fifth and sixth goals of the year.

Fresh off the kick off, UCSB worked the ball deep into Pitt territory and the visitors had trouble clearing the ball back up the field. Able to get deep down the right wing, Hromatko identified a 2-on-1 situation in the middle of the box, sending in a perfect cross for Schornstein to head in.

Up by one, the Gauchos kept their foot on the gas pedal early on, leading to Hromatko's goal. The reigning Big West Freshman of the Year hounded a Panthers defender deep in her own territory, and when she tried to make a move to escape the pressure, Hromatko stole the ball and advanced on goal unimpeded. She slotted to the keeper's right for an easy goal that made it 2-0 UCSB.

Ball extended UCSB's lead just over 10 minutes later, outworking her defender to track down a Dakota Griggs cross from the left side, just getting enough on the header to redirect inside the far post. The Gauchos' most potent offensive weapon so far in 2016 cemented the result in the second half, earning a penalty in the 52nd minute after getting dragged down in the box before converting on the spot kick.

"While I loved our offensive output, I was very pleased with our team defense," Stumpf said. "The defense really set-up our offense and tonight we were efficient on both ends of the field."

UCSB's first-half outburst was the first time the team scored three goals in a half since Sept. 21, 2014 against Pacific. It was also the first time the Gauchos scored four goals this year, a feat they have accomplished just three times in the past three seasons.

"Possession was good for us," Stumpf said. "Our attackers were very dynamic and sharp. This was a good all-around effort."

The Gauchos continue a six-game homestand on Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. against Utah State.

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