A late Ignacio Tellechea equalizer got the UC Santa Barbara men’s soccer team into overtime against UNLV, and a Will Baynham golden goal gave the Gauchos a 2-1 victory in their season opener at Harder Stadium on Friday night.
Neither team could get much going in what was a tight first half, with only one of the 13 combined shots resulting in a save, being junior left wing Ameyawu Muntarii’s shot in the second minute of play.
In the 80th minute, the deadlock was finally broken when UNLV’s Bryan Martinez-Serrano positioned himself at the back post to get on the end of a cross from Hayden Prasad to put the visitors up 1-0.
In the dying minutes of regulation, the Gauchos’ attacks gained a sense of urgency. Senior defensive midfielder Sahid Conteh combined with senior attacking midfielder Thibault Candia, with the Frenchman delivering a cross into the right side of the UNLV penalty area into Tellechea, who half-volleyed the ball into goal from 12 yards out to tie the game in the 88th minute.
Moments after the first overtime period began, Muntari was dragged down inside the box by UNLV left back Tyler Allen and referee Robert Sarfaraz awarded a penalty to the hosts in the 92nd minute.
Junior right winger Rodney Michael stepped up to the spot to take it, but he missed the target on his attempt to keep things level.
Nonetheless, the chances kept coming for the Gauchos in the extra periods, as senior right wingback Noah Billingsley had a low driven shot parried around the near post by UNLV goalkeeper Enrique Adame, resulting in a corner kick in the 107th minute.
It was that corner kick, taken by Candia, that would lead to the golden goal for the Gauchos. The Frenchman delivered a sharp ball into the six-yard box, where it bounced off of the right foot of Martinez-Serrano into the path of Baynham, who fired it home to end the game.
“To be honest, I don’t really remember what happened before the goal. The ball landed at my feet and my eyes lit up. I put it away, which was good,” Baynham said of his goal.
The Gauchos’ win means the Gauchos are unbeaten in its last nine season openers, going 8-0-1 in that span.
UCSB plays Virginia Tech on Sunday at 7 p.m.