The UCSB men’s soccer team continued its second half scoring trend on Sunday at No. 24 Loyola Marymount, coming back from a 1-0 deficit with two goals in the final 28 minutes to defeat the Lions 2-1.
The Gauchos improve to 2-1-1 with the win, while LMU drops to the same record after being handed its first loss of 2022.
The Lions doubled UCSB in shots in the first half 12-6, but it was the Gauchos who got the first great chance to open the scoring. After earning a penalty in the 38th minute, forward Diran Bebekian’s attempt was stuffed by a great diving effort from LMU goalkeeper Mitchell Wilson.
Both sides forced three saves before halftime and the scoreline would finally change several minutes into the second frame. This time, it was LMU that earned a penalty, and Noel Caliskan scored his second goal of the season in the 49th minute.
Santa Barbara’s offense became more effective as the game wore on, as reflected by the visitors’ 10-7 shot advantage over the final 45 minutes. The Gauchos’ persistence would be rewarded in the form of a 63rd minute equalizer, when a low cross into the box deflected into the back of the net off a Loyola player.
As the clock neared 80 minutes, the Gauchos would pull ahead for the first time. Making his first start of the year, midfielder Lucas Gonzalez was able to set up forward Finn Ballard McBride for the go-ahead goal, giving the two-time reigning Big West scoring leader his first of the young season.
After making two saves early in the second half, junior goalkeeper Leroy Zeller didn’t see any more shots on target the rest of the way, and the Lions ran out of time as they searched for a tying goal.
– Zeller followed up a huge six-save night against Cornell with five more on Sunday. The 11 saves over a two-game span are tied for the most of his Gaucho career and this is the third time he has done it.
– After missing the first two games of the regular season, Gonzalez has an assist in each of the last two games. He is already one assist shy of his total from last year, when he started in 11 of his 12 appearances.
– The Gauchos’ 16 shots set a season-high as they scored two goals for the second time.
– Santa Barbara is now 1-0-1 against ranked opponents this season, both times playing on the road.
UCSB will be home for six of its next seven games. The Gauchos begin a three-game home stand on Friday against Oregon State at 7 p.m. at Harder Stadium.
Michael Jorgenson writes about sports for UCSB.