MSoc: Miller’s goal gives UCSB a tie with UC Davis

Sophomore forward Charlie Miller’s second-half goal and a stellar defensive team effort earned No. 14 UC Santa Barbara a 1-1 draw against visiting UC Davis on Saturday night, pushing the team’s unbeaten streak to nine games and solidifying its spot at the top of the Big West standings.

The Gauchos’ record moved to 11-4-2 after the tie, while UC Davis went to 6-8-3, 2-4-2.

It is just the second time since the 2008 season that the Gauchos have put together a nine-game unbeaten streak.

Both the Gauchos and Aggies packed the defensive third in the first half, resulting in few chances for either team. UCSB was the only team with a shot on goal in the first frame, and both teams combined for just five shots overall.

Things opened up a bit in the second half, as the Gauchos were able to generate eight shots to the Aggies’ six.

In the 69th minute, UCSB had the first grade-A scoring chance of the game. Taking a free kick just outside the 18 yard box, freshman forward Ismaila Jome curled a ball that clanged off the outside of the left post.

Shortly after, the Aggies opened the scoring on a counterattack. Retaining possession in the 71st minute after a rebound, UC Davis’s Dashiell McNamara passed across the box to teammate Matt Sheldon, who shot into an open net for the 1-0 lead.

The Gauchos were not behind for long, however. In the 82nd minute, senior forward Goffin Boyoko received the ball about 30 yards out. With his back to goal, Boyoko turned and sent a ball down the right wing for defender Kevin Garcia-Lopez. The speedy fullback took a couple touches before serving a ball to the back post, where Miller leaped and headed back to the near post for his third goal of the season.

Chances were few and far between in overtime, as the Gauchos recorded the only shot of the first extra period. In the second overtime frame, freshman goalkeeper Josh McNeely made a great diving save on a Sheldon far post header, preserving the 1-1 tie. McNeely ended the night with four saves, pushing his personal record to 10-3-2.

The draw was even more impressive considering the Gauchos were without starters Achille Campion, Drew Murphy, and Peter Schmetz.

The physical game produced 54 fouls overall, a season-high for UCSB. The Gauchos ended the night with a 14-11 shots advantage and a 9-2 edge in corner kicks.

The Gauchos end the regular season next week with a road contest at Sacramento State on Wednesday and a Saturday showdown with Blue-Green rival Cal Poly at Harder Stadium that will be televised nationally by Fox Sports West.

UC Santa Barbara will also host the Big West Tournament Semifinals on Friday, Nov. 15.