WSoc: Gauchos post shut out in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The UC Santa Barbara women’s soccer team continued its defensive mastery on Friday afternoon in Albuquerque, blanking host New Mexico 2-0.  It is the Gauchos fifth straight win, all via shutout.

The loss dropped the Lobos to an uncharacteristic 2-7 on the year, and 1-3 at home.  UCSB  improved to 6-2-1 overall.

The Gauchos got on the board first on a broken play off a corner kick.Geneve Dromensk hit a low corner kick that found Allie Ariniello in the box.  Her volley attempt was shanked off her plant leg, and the ball richocheted to Angelisa Cortez, who turned and poked it into the lower right corner for a 1-0 lead at the 16:22 mark.

The game stayed 1-0 through halftime, and it looked like UNM tied it in the 61st minute when Elba Holguin laid a ball off the Brooke Ellison at the top of the box.  Her shot hit the right post, banked off keeper Beth Ritter, and just out of the reach of the onrushing Dylann O’Connor.

UCSB then got an insurance goal when Indiana Mead sent a ball from the left flank into the box, and Cristina Polini was able to settle it and knock it home with 15:53 left in the contest.

UNM again pressed and nearly got on the board twice in the final five minutes.  With just under five minutes to go, it looked like UNM had halved the deficit when Ruth Bruciaga chipped one past Ritter, and with the ball in the air at the line it was somehow cleared away, although the reactions from the Briciaga and the UNM bench told a different story.

Barely a minute after that, O’Connor sent a left-footed rocket that beat Ritter, but it clanged flush off the crossbar and ricocheted safely out of harms way.  The Lobos would end the night with a 16-5 advantage in shots, and 4-2 on net (not counting the two off the frame).

“This is a great road and team win,” said UCSB head coach Paul Stumpf.  “This is a tought place to play.  New Mexico does’t lose many home games.  It’s hard to single out any one player because we playe so well.  I’m proud of our team.”

Ritter logged her fifth straight shutout, becoming the first UCSB goalkeeper in more than two decades to accomplish the feat. In the process, she lowered her goals against average to 0.16.  She entered the weekend with a 0.19 GAA, ranking fourth on the NCAA Division I list.

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