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Gauchos find time to beat Cal Poly with last second goal

UCSB CAL POY SOCCER.00_01_02_21.Still001
UCSB stuns Cal Poly 2-1 with a goal in the final 12 seconds of the game.

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Playing in front of the largest crowd the NCAA has seen this season at Cal Poly's Alex G. Spanos Stadium on Wednesday night, the UC Santa Barbara men's soccer team escaped with a 2-1 win thanks to more late-game heroics from Salvador Aguilar, who headed in the game-winning goal with 12 seconds left in the 90th minute.

The Gauchos will head into Saturday's non-conference finale against No. 5-T Stanford with a 5-1-2 record and riding a five-game unbeaten streak. The Mustangs are now 0-7 with one game left before the start of Big West play.

HOW IT HAPPENED
Things seemed to be going according to the script early on, as the heavily-favored Gauchos opened the scoring in the 18th minute.

UCSB 1, Cal Poly 0 – Alexis Ledoux 18' (C. Vom Steeg)
Santa Barbara pushed forward and Finn Ballard McBride laid it off to right back Caden Vom Steeg for a first-time ball into the box. As a Mustang center back shielded off Aguilar in front of goal, he didn't make an attempt to clear it, and it fell right to Alexis Ledoux who softly tucked it into the near post for his first goal as a Gaucho.

After UCSB took the lead, there would be few moments where solid build-up play turned into clear scoring chances, with both sides often lacking the final pass needed in the attacking third. The Mustangs remained aggressive in search of an equalizer, and after totaling just 17 corner kicks through their first six games, would earn a season-high 10 to UCSB's five.

Senior goalkeeper Leroy Zeller made the stops he needed and UCSB's back line remained strong. However, a ball played into the Cal Poly box in the 89th minute would lead to a collision as Zeller attempted to clear it with his head, and the Mustangs were awarded a penalty.

UCSB 1, Cal Poly 1 – Nathan Colley 89'
Zeller chose the correct side, but Nathan Colley's shot towards the left post just made it past the German keeper's glove, and the game was tied with less than 90 seconds left. Fortunately for the Gauchos, that was more than enough time to rewrite another classic ending to the Blue-Green rivalry.

UCSB 2, Cal Poly 1 – Salvador Aguilar 90' (Aldana)
The clock was stopped with under 30 seconds remaining as a Gaucho throw-in was delayed and the ball ended up in the crowd. The Mustang faithful jubilantly celebrated by throwing the ball around the stands, but once play resumed, UCSB got its last chance to attack. A hopeful ball sent forward fell right to junior Jorge Aldana, whose great first touch allowed him to cross it into the box with space. At the end of it, unsurprisingly, was Aguilar, who attacked it in the air at the perfect moment from about three yards out and smashed in another one of his clutch, patented headers straight down and into the back of the net with just 12 seconds left.

It went down as Aguilar's second game-winner of the season, giving him a team-leading four goals in eight outings.

NOTABLE

  • The final attendance settled at 10,392, not only going down as the largest crowd in college soccer so far this year, but ranking 25th all-time in Division I history.
  • From start to finish, Alexis Ledoux was an absolute menace for the Mustangs to handle, showing off his dynamic skillset as he threatened the Cal Poly defense all over the field. His first goal of the year felt inevitable with the way he has cut up defenses all year, and a gorgeous build-up in the 79th almost resulted in a brace as he had his third shot on goal of the night just barely deflect off goalkeeper Gabe Penner's shoulder. The speedy French forward also nearly moved into a tie for the team-lead with his fourth assist on a Ballard McBride in the 85th, but the goal was disallowed when it was ruled McBride was just a hair offside.
  • Cal Poly's 89th minute equalizer was the first goal it has scored against UCSB in nearly three calendar years, since a 3-1 Gaucho win on Oct. 5 2019. The Mustangs were shutout by the Gauchos in three straight meetings since then.
  • Aguilar's fourth headed goal comes on the heels of his second Big West Player of the Week honor through four weeks of play. He has now scored in two straight games for the second time this season, something he accomplished once during a six-goal 2021 campaign.

NEXT UP
UCSB will have just two days off before a huge test against No. 5-T Stanford on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.. UCSB is 1-0-1 against ranked opponents this year and has that same record in its last two meetings with the Cardinal at Harder Stadium.

{courtesy of UCSB Athletics)

Article Topic Follows: College Sports
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Mike Klan

Mike Klan is the sports director for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Mike, click here.

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