Noah Billingsley scored in the 92nd minute, just one minute and 42 seconds into the first overtime period, to give the UC Santa Barbara men’s soccer team a 1-0 golden-goal victory over Cal State Fullerton on Saturday night at Harder Stadium.
In a matchup between the top two teams from the Big West Preseason Poll, the Gauchos (7-5-0, 1-1-0 Big West) continued their dominance over the preseason conference favorite Titans (4-3-6, 0-1-1 Big West) by extending their unbeaten streak over CSF to 15 games at Harder Stadium during the regular season. UCSB improves to a perfect 6-0 at home.
Santa Barbara took control from the outset of the match, controlling possession and creating a handful of opportunities early on. Axel Mendez registered a shot on goal within the first minute of play on a volley in the box that went straight to the CSF keeper.
Mendez, donning the No. 100 jersey, was active early with all three of his shots coming in the first 15 minutes while handling the bulk of the corner kick duties. UCSB generated a season-high 10 corners on the night, including four in the first 12 minutes.
Cal State Fullerton, who has tied six matches this season, settled into a defensive game plan while hoping for counter opportunities and nearly converted in the 24th minute. After Ross McPhie found space in the box, UCSB defender Hunter Ashworth dove in front of his shot to deflect a dangerous chance.
Later in the second half it was Ashworth once again, this time on the offensive end, coming through with a highlight play. After an Ignacio Tellechea corner kick into the box, Ashworth headed the ball just off the post.
The Gauchos outshot the Titans 12-5 and held a 10-4 advantage in corner kicks through regulation, but after 90 scoreless minutes UCSB headed to its first overtime match of the season after playing in seven in 2017.
Overtime did not last long at all as Rodney Michael set up the Gauchos’ scoring chance just under two minutes in. The sophomore forward raced into the attacking third in the middle of the pitch, breaking free from a swarm of defenders, and dished the ball to Carter Clemmensen on his right. Clemmensen then sent the ball through the box to an open Billingsley on the left side from 10 yards out. The New Zealand native did not miss his chance and slotted the ball into the near post for his first of the season to give UCSB its first conference win.
Mendez and Tellechea finished with three shots apiece to lead all players in the match while Billingsley finished with two. In his return, Ben Roach recorded two saves in goal but only saw six total shots come his way.
UCSB heads out on the road to continue Big West action on Wednesday at UC Riverside at 7 p.m.