SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Christian Thierjung's goal in the sixth minute of overtime completed a late comeback and gave visiting Cal a thrilling 3-2 win over UC Santa Barbara on Saturday night at Harder Stadium.
The game-winner at the 95:37 mark came when Spencer Held played a ball from across the front of the goal and found Thierjung wide open to go one-on-one with Gaucho goalkeeper Titouan Le Roux who couldn't come up with the save.
The Golden Bears put themselves in a position to win it in the overtime on the strength of an outstanding goal that tied the score at 2-2.
In the 87th minute, goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann booted a 50-yard goal kick that went over the top of UCSB's defense and onto the foot of Nick Lima who had gotten behind the defenders. Lima dribble down the right side of the box and pounded a shot into the left corner of the goal.
After a scoreless first half, UCSB jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 60th minute when Kevin Feucht scored on a header off of a perfect corner kick by Andy Perez. The goal was Feucht's team-leading sixth of the season.
Cal evened the score just less than four minutes later as Jose Carerra-Garcia collected a through-ball from Aravind Sivakumar and slid a shot beyond the reach of a diving Le Roux.
The Gauchos (4-5-0) have now lost five straight matches with the last three coming in heartbreaking fashion.
"I thought we played well and did almost everything right tonight," said head coach Tim Vom Steeg. "But right now, we're bleeding goals. We've given up nine goals in the last three games, all at home, and you can't win like that. In Division I soccer, when you score two goals, you should win and we just didn't."
Both teams had numerous offensive opportunities. Cal outshot UCSB 21-16 overall and 12-10 on goal. Both goalkeepers were generally outstanding. Le Roux finished with a career-high nine saves while Klinsmann had eight.
The Gauchos will open Big West play on the road next weekend, traveling to UC Riverside on Sept. 29 and Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 1.
"Riverside and Fullerton are two of the toughest places to play in the conference and we get them right away," Vom Steeg said. "We'll do what we do. We'll make adjustments and hope for better results. It's all about getting a good seed and two home games in the Big West Tournament. Winning the tournament is our most realistic way to get to the postseason this year, so we have to focus on that."