BAKERSFIELD — UCSB brought a high national ranking into Cal State Bakersfield for its regular season-opening soccer match, but the host Roadrunners didn’t care.
They frustrated the Gauchos with some scrappy defensive play and outstanding goalkeeping, and they got a goal in the first 10-minute overtime period to stun the No. 5-ranked team in the country 1-0 Wednesday night.
Gyasi Zardes collected a deflected ball after a Bakersfield free kick and beat Gaucho goalkeeper Sam Hayden with a shot into the lower right corner of the goal to give the Roadrunners a huge win in their second year as a Division 1 athletic program.
“The ball actually hit me in my face,” Zardes told the Bakersfield Californian. “It hit off my teammate and I saw the ball drop. I just said, ‘kick it,’ and I kicked it and just got it on target and the ball went in.”
UCSB created numerous chances to score in the match, but many of them were turned away by the outstanding play of Bakersfield goalkeeper Eric Shannon. He made eight saves, including a few from point-blank range.
The Gauchos took the game to Bakersfield in the first half and outshot the Roadrunners 10-2.
Junior midfielder Luis Silva set up a great scoring chance in the 26th minute, sending a ball in that was headed by junior defender Evan McNeil. Sophomore Michael Nonni collected the rebound and fired a shot from close range that Shannon blocked.
A few minutes later, freshman David Opoku fed the ball to Michael Tetteh whose shot from inside the area was blocked by Shannon’s knee.
“My job is to do whatever possible to keep my team in the running,” Shannon said. “Whether it’s breakaways, shots, crosses, whatever it is that’s my job. I felt like I did well today keeping us in the game. The defense — the back four — was outstanding. I have to give credit to them. Without them it wouldn’t have been possible.”
The Bakersfield keeper also stoned Chris Hunter and Sam Garza in the first half, and he finished the half with a diving save on shot by David in the final 10 seconds.
Shannon stayed hot in the second half as he denied Nonni from close range in the 54th minute.
Bakersfield picked up momentum and generated some dangerous chances in the second half. But Hayden was on top of his game and kept the Roadrunners off the board. He finished with five saves.
The Gauchos pushed hard in the last 10 minutes of regulation to get a goal. In the 81st minute, David fed the ball to junior Danny Barrera in the area, but his shot hit the post. A couple minutes later, Luis Silva flicked the ball to Garza, who sent it to Christian Ramirez, but Shannon again came up big, making a diving save.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Gauchos. They immediately fly out to Albuquerque for a Saturday night match against New Mexico.