WSoc: Ball, Francis score in Gaucho victory

The UC Santa Barbara women’s soccer team completed a perfect opening weekend to the 2014 season with a 2-0 win over visiting Southern Utah on Sunday afternoon at Harder Stadium.

On Friday night, the Gauchos shutout Cleveland State in the season opener, 3-0.

Against Southern Utah (0-1), UCSB scored the first goal of the match in the 12th minute when senior Indiana Mead carried the ball to the right end line, pivoted to her right and rifled a pass into the front of the goal. Freshman Amanda Ball was waiting about six yards straight out front and she one-timed a blistering shot past a diving Tessa Christensen, the Thunderbirds’ starting goalkeeper. It was Ball’s second goal in as many matches.

“Amanda now has two game-winning goals in two games and that’s impressive,” said UCSB head coach Paul Stumpf. “Indy (Mead) was very good today as well and the two of them are already clicking.”

Southern Utah had an outstanding chance to even the score in the 18th minute when Nancy Brich beat a UCSB defender and went in one-on-one against goalie Beth Ritter. Ritter came off her line and made a spectacular save of Brich’s shot from point-blank range, preserving the shutout.

The Gauchos made it 2-0 in the 51st minute when Dakota Griggs slid a pass from the right side of the goalmouth into the middle where Savannah Francis was positioned. The junior settled the ball and poked a shot into the left of the far post. It was her first goal of the season.

“This was another solid performance for us,” Stumpf said. “We had a significant possession advantage of 65-to-35 and the result was a 20-to-5 advantage in shots and, more importantly a 2-0 score. To have two shutouts in two games this early in the season feels good.”

Santa Barbara had a golden opportunity to make it 3-0 in the 67th minute when Sara Feder took a cross from Ball in the left side of the penalty box and powered a shot past Christensen that hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounced on the goal line where it was gathered by the opposing goalkeeper.

The one drawback to Sunday’s win came in the 72nd minute when senior defender Miranda Cornejo was ejected after pulling down a Thunderbird attacker who was on a one-on-one breakaway. The red card means that the Gauchos’ top defender will miss their Friday, Aug. 29 match at the University of Dayton.

Overall, UCSB dominated Sunday’s match to the tune of a 20-5 shot advantage, including 7-1 in shots on goal, and a monstrous 12-0 edge in corner kicks. Much of the reason for the domination was the play of the team’s defensive midfielders.

“Geneve (Dromensk) and Kelly (McGrath) in holding midfield roles have been very important to our defense and our possession,” Stumpf said.

For Ritter, it was her second shutout in as many starts in 2014 and the 10th she has produced in must 17 career starts dating back to the 2013 campaign.

The Gauchos will play on road for their next three games, traveling to Dayton (Aug. 29), Cincinnati (Aug. 31) and Stanford (Sept. 4), before returning home to host Loyola Marymount at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 7 at Harder Stadium.