'Eaters handle Gauchos

SANTA BARBARA — UC Irvine senior Miguel Ibarra was hoping for a second chance.

After misfiring while all alone in front of the UC Santa Barbara goal early in the second half, the mental replay of the forward's squandered scoring chance might have made for a sleepless Saturday night.

But Ibarra erased that image by connecting on the game-winning goal in the 67th minute to propel the No. 7-ranked Anteaters to a crucial 2-0 Big West Conference victory over the No. 10-ranked Gauchos in front of 5,417 at Harder Stadium.

Ibarra, who converted a Jimmy Turner assist with about a 25-yard drive that deflected off a UCSB defender and into the top right corner of the net for his fourth goal of the season, said it was the biggest tally of his UCI career. It was his second game-winner this season.

"I thought I should have finished it," Ibarra said of his first chance, one of 11 shots for UCI, one fewer than UCSB's total. "I didn't put my head down. I kept my head up and just kept going.

"If you have a second chance, you want to put it away, because you know you missed one right before that."

UCI Coach George Kuntz said Ibarra is not one to be discouraged by a temporary setback.

"Miguel is one of those guys who is going to make up for his mistakes on the next play," said Kuntz, whose team, the Big West regular-season champion last year, improved to 9-2, 1-1 in conference. "He's going to get it back."

UCSB (6-3-1, 0-2), the 2010 Big West Tournament champion, nearly got that goal back in a matter of seconds.

But UCI senior goalkeeper Andrew Fontein made the second of two huge saves on his way to his fourth shutout of the season, the 24th of his career. Fontein charged off the goal line to cut down the angle, then got a piece of a drive off the foot of Dom Sarle, who had sprinted behind the UCI defense. The ball deflected over the net.

Fontein stopped a point-blank shot not long after halftime. The ball ricocheted off his chest and back into play, but was cleared by a UCI defender. Fontein finished with five saves.

"Andrew had two big saves." Kuntz said. "After the Cal Poly game [a 1-0 home loss Wednesday in the conference opener] he has been sharper than I've seen him all season. I've been on him, because he hasn't been as sharp as usual, so this is great for him to get a shutout."

Freshman forward Trey Hayes added an insurance goal in the 80th minute, diving toward the goal line to get his head on a bending cross from near the right corner by sophomore defender Marco Franco.

"Trey has some bite to him," Kuntz said of the 6-foot-5 weapon, who has three goals this season.

UCI's two goals were more typical of its offensive performance.

Before Wednesday's blanking, the 'Eaters entered the week tied for the No. 3 national ranking in total goals (22).

The victory halted UCSB's home unbeaten streak at 16 matches.

The Gauchos had been 14-0-2 at home, dating back to Sept. 10, 2010.

"It's one game," Kuntz said. "But this is definitely a tough environment. If you can't get up for a game like this, you shouldn't be playing college soccer. The guys were very motivated. They were very disappointed [Wednesday] . Instead of beating the guys up, we tried to lift them up. It's a young team and young teams make immature mistakes. But then they can swing back."

UCI and Ibarra did just that.


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