Thaabit Baartman
UCSB forward Thaabit Baartman hits the top of the net for a score 10:22 into Wednesday’s game with UC-Irvine. (Felipe Garcia / Noozhawk photo)

It looked like a tight but sure UCSB win coming to an end, Gauchos mostly taking care of closing time with a 1-0 lead Wednesday night at Harder Stadium.

Then with 15 seconds left, Anteater Jake Means took a long pass just outside the Gaucho box from Michael Orozco and hit a header that glanced off the left post and into the goal.

Two 10-minute overtime periods that shouldn’t have been unnecessary didn’t solve anything, leaving a 1-1 tie.

That stopped a three-game winning streak for the Gauchos, now 6-3-3 and 2-0-1 in Big West play.

“You saw what you saw,” an angry UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg said in the post-game press conference, “which was the opportunity to win a tough league game against a tough opponent, and we figured out a way to give a team another goal with 15 seconds left.

“… We had ample opportunity to kill the game and we had ample opportunity to clear a ball, and we did neither. It was absolutely inexcusable.”

UCSB opened the scoring just 10:22 into the game, when senior forward Ameyawu Muntari passed across the front of the goal to junior forward Thaabit Baartman, who kicked the ball in. Seconds earlier, a Baartman shot just missed.

The 80 scoreless minutes that followed saw a few spectacular saves from 6-foot-5 sophomore Gaucho goalkeeper Leroy Zeller to preserve the UCSB lead. He finished with seven saves. Meanwhile, the Gauchos got only one other shot on goal off in the first half. The Anteaters largely dominated field position.

The Gauchos benefited from strong defensive play from Henry Davies, Williams Gillingham and Zeller.

Four minutes into the second overtime, Zeller saved a rebound shot from Anteater freshman forward Jake Means, after a miss from Cervantes.

In the 107th minute, Irvine goalkeeper Gordon Botterill saved a shot from Muntari.

“We did what we had to do in that second overtime,” Vom Steeg said. “We did have a couple looks there, but again in the end it was not good enough.

“We didn’t play well enough tonight. We didn’t pass or trap well enough. There was all phases of the game we just didn’t do well tonight.”

The team missed defenders Lucas Gonzalez, a red-shirt freshman, and Carson Vom Steeg, a senior, both out with injuries.

“Obviously we can talk all day long about not having a Lucas and a Carson on the field, because these are the games that those two players probably would have sorted some things out for you,” coach Vom Steeg said. “But it is what it is, and we still had enough to win with 15 seconds left.

“In the end, it’s up to us to finish a game.”

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Dennis Moran, Noozhawk Correspondent

Noozhawk correspondent Dennis Moran can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.