Freshman forward Ludwig Ahl recorded a brace and sophomore wingback Drew Murphy added a goal and an assist to lead UC Santa Barbara to a 4-1 win over Drake in the team’s final non-conference home game of the season Sunday evening at Harder Stadium.
“It was a great performance by the team in general and Ludwig and Drew in particular,” said UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg.”There are still some things to work on and improve, but I feel like we’re at a good spot going into conference next week.”
Ahl and Murphy both played prominent roles in each of the team’s first three goals, all of which came in the opening 28 minutes of the match. The win moved UCSB’s record to 4-3-1 while Drake fell to 2-5-2.
It was the first two-goal performance by a Gaucho since Achille Campion had a pair against Yale on Sep. 20, 2013. It was the third multi-point game of Murphy’s young career.
The Swedish striker’s third minute goal – UCSB’s fastest goal to open a game so far this season – opened the scoring.
Playing as a left back, Murphy started the play by sending a long pass across the pitch fellow fullback Kevin Garcia-Lopez. The senior then beat his defender before taking off down the right wing. From there, Garcia-Lopez found a seam and played a pass through the right side of the box to Ahl, who came streaking through the top of the penalty area to bury a shot to the keeper’s right.
In the 21st minute, Murphy put the Gauchos up by a pair. Again getting forward, he played a 1-2 combo with Ahl about 25 yards from goal. Off the give-and-go, Murphy danced through a trio of defenders before faking out the goalie for an easy tap-in score.
The prolific duo hooked up again in the 28th minute to extend the lead to three. Off a corner kick, Ahl ran near post and met Murphy’s pass with a left-footed, first touch curler into the top left corner of the net.
Senior forward Reed McKenna closed the day’s scoring for UCSB in the 82nd minute, juking his defender with a fake shot at the edge of the box, taking a touch to his left and blasting a left-footed shot inside the near post.
An 85th minute penalty shot by Drake’s Alec Bartlett was the only thing standing in the way of a second consecutive UCSB shutout.
The Gauchos dominated the Bulldogs possession-wise, as the blue-and-gold only allowed one shot on goal from open play – a soft header that was easily caught by freshman UCSB keeper Brandon Berke.
Overall, the Gauchos outshot their opponents 18-6 (8-2 advantage in shots on frame) on the night, including a 10-shot second half performance that matched the first half of Thursday’s contest against San Diego State for the most attempts at net for the team in a single half this season.
UCSB will begin its 10-game conference schedule next week with two of the best in the Big West, as the Gauchos are set to host Cal State Northridge on Thursday night and No. 4 UC Irvine on Saturday night.