Diaz's golden goal lifts UCLA men's soccer over UCSB, into second round of NCAA Tournament
LOS ANGELES – Senior forward Kevin Diaz poked in a loose ball inside the six-yard box in the 103rd minute for an overtime golden goal as the No. 24-ranked UCLA men's soccer team defeated UC Santa Barbara, 2-1, on Thursday night at Wallis Annenberg Stadium in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The game-winner clinched the comeback win for the Bruins (11-6-1), who fell behind 1-0 in the second half but received an 86th minute equalizer from Jose Contell to send the game to overtime.
With the win, UCLA now advances to the second round and will travel to No. 7-seeded Duke for a game on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 10:00 a.m. PT.
"I'm super happy for the players, they put a ton in tonight and they stuck to trying to play what we were trying to do," said UCLA head coach Ryan Jorden. "You look at their interactions together and you look at their continued growth throughout the season, they continued to get better and better. That takes some character to fight back, from down 1-0, in the tournament in a game like this against a really tough, organized team. We just continued to try to wear on them, and we did it enough."
UCSB, which entered the game having lost just once over the last two months, ends its season with a 12-5-4 record. The Bruins improved to 2-1 all-time against the Gauchos in postseason play.
The game-winning sequence was started by a long ball over the top from senior defender Ben Reveno, who was able to hit Contell deep on the right wing. From there, Contell advanced on net and – just before reaching the goal line – sent in a centering cross. The ball got past one Gaucho defender, but a second got a light touch on it at the edge of the six and put the ball in striking distance of Diaz, who lunged and poked it in with his left foot before UCSB keeper Leroy Zeller could clear it off the line.
The golden goal was UCLA's first in a playoff game since Chase Gasper scored in the 105th minute against Providence on Dec. 12, 2014, during the semifinals of that year's College Cup.
With the Bruins less than five minutes away from defeat, Contell extended the game via an 86th minute equalizer. Aaron Edwards started that play with a long throw in from deep on the right side, where he was able to get off a long throw to freshman center back Pietro Grassi inside the 18. Grassi got body position on his marker and headed the ball back towards the top of the box, and Contell was able to hit a first-time left-footed shot from inside the penalty arc that took a deflection and went inside the left post to make it 1-1.
UCLA dominated possession following the Gauchos' 54th minute opener (scored by Ramses Martinez), outshooting the visitors by a margin of 14-3 for the remainder of the game. Overall, UCLA won the shots battle 18-10.
The first half featured just three shots a side, with neither team registering an attempt on net until the 17th minute. Neither team had a grade-A scoring opportunity in the opening 45 minutes.
Stay tuned to @UCLAMSoccer on Twitter for further information on the Duke matchup, including ticket and broadcast details.