DePuy is golden for Gauchos in OT win

Nick DePuy is making an extremely strong case to be the repeat winner of the National Player of the Week award. The junior forward scored a  golden goal on Saturday night to lead No. 15 UC Santa Barbara to a 2-1 win over Cal State Fullerton, the fourth consecutive contest he has fired the game-winner.

His NCAA-leading seventh game-winner of the year moved the Gauchos to 9-3-1 on the year and a 4-0-0 mark in conference play. UCSB has now won a season-best five straight games. South Division leading Cal State Fullerton fell to 7-5-1, 2-1-1.

The overtime win was a welcome result for a UCSB side that was frustrated offensively by a defensively stout Titans side, with the visitors entering Saturday’s contest with four consecutive clean sheets to their name.

Recording just 10 shots on the night – and only seven through the end of regulation – the Gauchos made the most of their limited attacking chances.

“Our group has a lot of depth this year and it pays dividends in games like this,” UCSB coach Tim Vom Steeg said. “Cal State Fullerton has limited shots all year, the difference in the game was we had Nick and they didn’t,”

It was a trademark goal for DePuy, who got good inside position on his defender in the penalty area while a teammate made a run down the left wing before whipping a cross into the box.

Nick DePuy - UCSB Soccer

Nick DePuy scores his seventh game-winning goal.

The goal extended a pair of scoring streaks for UCSB’s attacking duo. For DePuy, it was his 21st goal in 26 appearances since moving to forward full-time on Sept. 26, 2014, the most goals scored by any Division I player in that time span. The Ghanaian-born Acheampong – who entered the weekend with a conference-leading four assists – recorded a point for the sixth time in the past eight games, All-time, UCSB is 15-0-3 when DePuy scores a goal and 7-0-1 when Acheampong records a point.

In the middle of the second half, the two teams traded a pair of rapid-fire goals within a minute of each other after having combined for very few scoring opportunities in the match’s opening 75 minutes.

Cal State Fullerton was the first to get on the board, with Julian Okai picking up his first goal of the year in the 77th minute. Deep in UCSB territory, the Titans created the chance off a throw-in, with defender Zach Bryan heaving the ball into the box, where it was deflected right into the middle of the 18-yard box. Stationed about 10 yards from goal in line with the far post, Okai came across and volleyed the chest-high deflection into the corner of the net.

The Gauchos answered back just 50 seconds later, as the squad earned a penalty kick after DePuy was dragged down in the box by a Titans defender.

UCSB sophomore midfielder Kevin Feucht stepped up to the spot in lieu of the injured Drew Murphy, and the German national buried a shot low to the keeper’s right.

It was the first Division I score for Feucht, who played one of his best games of the season as a deep-lying midfielder.

The Gauchos will look to extend their win streak next week, as they travel to play Sacramento State on Wednesday before taking on Blue-Green rival Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo on Saturday night.