Junior Kevin Feucht found the back of the net with a 92nd minute golden goal to give UC Santa Barbara a 2-1 win over conference rival Cal State Fullerton on Saturday night at Titan Stadium in a rematch of the 2015 Big West Tournament Final.
It was the fifth straight game that Feucht scored a goal, making him just the sixth Gaucho ever to accomplish that feat. His team-leading eighth score improved UCSB’s record to 5-5-1 (1-0-1 Big West) and earned the team’s first victory since Sept. 4 against St. Mary’s.
Meanwhile, the Titans dropped to 5-6 with a 1-1 mark in conference play.
The play was made possible by the combination of Andy Perez and Josue España.
Earning a throw-in about 10 yards from the end line down the right side, Perez threw in to España who played a couple passes back and forth with his teammate. Once getting into position, España curled in a first-touch cross off Perez’s pass to the back post, where a pair of Gauchos were waiting.
The first, forward Ahinga Selemani, narrowly missed getting his head on it, but fortunately Feucht – who was unmarked – was right behind him to head the ball in off a bounce.
The Gauchos led early on in the game, as freshman forward Noah Billingsley made a heads-up play to nab a goal in the ninth minute,
After a Titans defender was fouled deep in his own territory, he re-started play quickly and sent a back pass to keeper David Elias, who came out high in the box to receive the pass and play it up to his center back.
Unfortunately for CSF, Billingsley was waiting to press and he stripped the defender as he tried to make a move past him. With Elias so high in the box, he had no chance to get back in net as Billingsley finished into an open net for his second goal of the year.
Thus, UCSB’s new-look defense – including Nick DePuy at right-center back – was immediately tasked with protecting a lead.
The Gaucho back four did a fairly good job of defending, but a nice individual effort from Rei Dorwart led to an equalizer for the home team in the 27th minute.
Making a run down the right wing, Dorwart made an impressive play on a through ball to maintain possession and keep streaking down the wing. A sliding challenge from Randy Mendoza looked like it would snuff out the chance, but the ball ricocheted off Dorwart and bounced right back into his path. Once he was near the end line, he picked out Ross McPhie in the box where the midfielder was able to redirect it past UCSB keeper Titouan Le Roux.
Things slowed down considerably once the score was level again, with both teams stuffing things up defensively.
The overtime win continued a run of dominance in Big West play for UCSB, which is undefeated in its last six regular season Big West games and has gone 21-4-7 against league opponents since 2013.
The Gauchos now return to Santa Barbara to open a three-game home stretch starting with UC Irvine on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. PDT, followed by CSUN on Saturday, Oct. 8 and Sacramento State on Wednesday, Oct. 12.