FULLERTON, Calif. – Cal State Fullerton senior Nikki McCants scored the game-winning goal in the 88th minute on Sunday night at Titan Stadium as the Titans defeated UC Santa Barbara 1-0 in Big West action.
The victory not only avenged last season's 4-2 loss at home to the Gauchos on Oct. 19, 2012, but more importantly helped the Titans get back into the win column and moved them closer to the top half of the Big West standings.
The Titans (7-5-4, 2-2-1 Big West) coming off back-to-back losses on the road, dominated most of the match, and outshot the Gauchos (9-7-1, 3-3-0 Big West) 18-4. Coach Demian Brown commented on outshooting the opponent and not scoring early, "It does have the opportunity to become very frustrating, but the fact that we were taking such quality shots and an abundance of them, we all just had that feeling that the goal was going to come."
In the second half, both teams traded scoring opportunities, before the Titans finally went ahead in the 88th minute. After the Gaucho goalkeeper Beth Ritter punched out Erica Mazeau's bending corner kick, McCants was there for the loose ball to volley it into the back of the net, for her first goal this season.
"It was a great corner kick from Erica, which she has been very good at, and Nikki as a senior gave that little extra effort to make sure it was a goal and a win for us," Brown said.
Titan goalkeeper Lindsey Maricic faced only one shot from UCSB, and made the save in the second half, on way to her fifth shutout of the season.
UC Santa Barbara had its fourth straight 1-0 contest. The Gauchos were coming off a 1-0 overtime victory on Friday at home against UC Riverside.
In the first half, the Titans had the early chances. Lauren Stupin took a shot that hammered off the top of the crossbar in the ninth minute. Later, in the 25th minute, Janali West had a beautiful strike that just missed wide. The Titans would outshoot the Gauchos 10-1 in the first half. Ritter made four saves to keep Fullerton off the scoreboard.
The Titans are currently in sixth place in the Big West Conference standings, with three regular season matches left to play. Next up the Titans return to the pitch on Sunday, to host UC Davis at 1 p.m. It will be "Senior Day" at Titan Stadium. The game will be the final home regular season appearance for a handful of seniors.
Notes: The goal by Nikki McCants ended the Titans 286-minute scoreless streak. The last Titan goal before McCants came on Oct. 6, 2013 against Cal State Northridge when Morgan Batcheller scored in the 72nd minute in the 1-1 draw…the Titans now lead the all-time series with UC Santa Barbara 12-9-1…five out of the last seven meetings between the two programs have resulted in shutouts, with Fullerton recording two of the shutouts…the last time the Titans shut out the Gauchos was a 2-0 win on Oct. 5, 2008… eight of the Titans' 14 goals this season have come in the 70th minute or later…this was the seventh 1-0 contest for the Titans this season, they now move to a 3-4 record in 1-0 games.