WSoc: Hromatko’s winner puts UCSB in tourney

Freshman Mallory Hromatko has made a habit of scoring big goals early in her UC Santa Barbara career and none was bigger than the one she put home on in Sunday afternoon’s 1-0 win over visiting UC Irvine.

Hromatko scored the game-winner at the 87:37 mark to break a scoreless tie and give the Gauchos (12-4-1 overall, 5-1 in Big West) the win and a spot in the 2015 Big West Tournament. With 15 points in the standings, they will also be guaranteed to enter the final weekend of the regular season tied for first.

The goal came when Hromatko took a short pass from sophomore Amanda Ball in the middle of the penalty box. Although in a crowd, Hromatko somehow got her foot on the ball for a shot that wound up in the lower left portion of the goal, eluding Anteater goalkeeper Corey Tobin.

“There is nothing easy about this league, this year,” said UCSB head coach Paul Stumpf. “It feels very similar to 2008 and 2009 when it wasn’t a matter of if, but when we were going to score big goals. This makes it three late game-winners for us.”

The last time the Gauchos advanced to the Big West Tournament was in 2009. They played in consecutive NCAA Tournaments in 2008 and 2009.