NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
With eight seconds remaining in the first overtime period, the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (8-4-0, 3-0-0 Big West) converted on a penalty kick to edge the No. 4 Cal State Northridge Matadors (10-2-0, 2-1-0 Big West) on Friday night at Matador Soccer Field. Sagi Lev-Ari scored his conference-leading ninth goal of the season for Northridge but it would not hold up as two late goals for UCSB proved to be the difference.
"Santa Barbara has a ton of class, a ton of talent and they won the match tonight," said CSUN head coach Terry Davila. "We had chances to close out and win toward the end of the match, some opportunities at goal, but came up unlucky. We have another tough match coming up against Cal Poly that we have to focus on."
"It's tough, but it's just one loss," said senior midfielder Carlos Benavides. "We need to keep our focus going ahead on our next match against Cal Poly on Sunday and win that one."
Lev-Ari opened the scoring for the Matadors just over five minutes into the match on a fine header that looped over UCSB goalkeeper Josh McNeely. Chris Smith played a short pass on the right side of the box to Juan Samayoa, whose lobbed ball to Lev-Ari was headed home from the six-yard box on the left side.
"Everybody wants to score goals but at the same time I must say that my teammates deserve equal credit," said Lev-Ari. "Fernando [Samayoa] sent me a great ball and without my teammates playing well I wouldn't have had the chance to score."
The goal for the Matadors put them ahead 1-0 and was the most dangerous piece of play in the first half until an effort at goal by the Gauchos in the 32nd minute. Nick DePuy sent a fierce header toward the top left corner of the net but CSUN goalkeeper Adam Hobbs dove and got a hand to the ball to keep it out.
The Matadors took a 1-0 lead into halftime despite being outshot 8-3 and conceding five corner kicks to UCSB. The Gauchos increased the pressure to start the second half, but a pair of saves by Hobbs kept the lead intact for the time being.
The Gauchos found their breakthrough, however, off of a set piece with time winding down in regulation. Drew Murphy crossed a deep ball into the left side of the box that was headed in by Peter Schmetz in the 87th minute to send the match to overtime.
With mere seconds remaining in the first overtime, the Gauchos were given a penalty on a disputed handball call inside the Northridge box. Achille Campion stepped to the spot and scored just beyond the reach of Hobbs near the right post.
With the loss, the Matadors saw their three-match win streak come to an end. Northridge will return to Matador Soccer Field to take on the Cal Poly Mustangs (8-5-0, 1-2-0 Big West) on Sunday afternoon as part of a CSUN Soccer Doubleheader with the women's program. The match will begin 40 minutes following the conclusion of the CSUN women's team against UCSB (4 p.m.)