Santa Barbara alone in first after 1-1 draw with Ventura

The first-place showdown lived up to expectations.

Santa Barbara and Ventura battled back and forth and played to a 1-1 draw in a Channel League match between two CIF Division 1-ranked boys soccer teams at Larrabee Stadium on Tuesday,

“It was a great game,” Santa Barbara coach Todd Heil said. “It was an incredible atmosphere, a playoff atmosphere.”

Santa Barbara, which has struggled in the past playing on Ventura’s smaller field, jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Alfredo “Freddy” Ibarra in the sixth minute. Ibarra, making a far post run, finished a cross from Alec Larson.

Santa Barbara held the lead until the 55th minute when Ventura was awarded a penalty kick. The Cougars converted to tie the score at 1-1.

Both teams had chances to take the lead, but clutch defensive plays kept the ball out of the net.

“Both goalkeepers made great saves, and there was a ball cleared off the line with a head. It was just a great game,” said Heil.

The result leaves the No. 5-ranked Dons at the top of the table at 3-0-1 (10 points) while 8th-ranked Ventura stands in second place at 2-0-2 (8 points).