WATCH THE GOALS: MALKI'S EQUALIZER | PRIDHAM'S GAME WINNER
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Junior midfielder George Malki scored with 66 seconds remaining in regulation and junior forward Mackenzie Pridham (right) found the game-winning goal six minutes into overtime as the Cal Poly men's soccer team produced its first victory at UC Santa Barbara in 14 years and 15 attempts by coming from behind to top the Gauchos at Harder Stadium on Friday, 2-1.
Freshman goalkeeper Wade Hamilton recorded a career-high 11 saves for the Mustangs (9-5-1, 4-2-1), who claimed their victory at Harder Stadium since producing a 4-2 win on Nov. 13, 1998. The match played out in front of 13,467 supporters, the seventh-largest regular season crowd figure in NCAA history.
With the victory, Cal Poly grabbed a share of first place in the Big West Conference North Division standings alongside Sacramento State (7-5-2, 4-1-1). UC Davis (6-5-4, 4-2-0) sits a point behind the Mustangs and Hornets in second while UC Santa Barbara (9-3-3, 3-3-1) remained in last place on 10 points. UC Davis visits Sacramento State on Saturday at 4 p.m. The top two finishers in the division qualify for the Nov. 7 and 10 Big West standings.
"It's incredible, the heart of this team. We were scored on first, but the power and quality the guys showed tonight, they weren't going to be denied," seventh-year Cal Poly head coach Paul Holocher said. "We've come here so many times and been second best. The guys refused to have that feeling tonight."
UC Santa Barbara, which outshot the Mustangs, 24-12, eventually broke through against Hamilton in the 75th as Nic Ryan, outstretched and diving forward, headed a cross from freshman forward Ema Boateng across the Cal Poly goal line.
Cal Poly, held to just one shot on goal during the opening 42 minutes, responded during the 89th minute. Pridham started the equalizing attack by sprinting with the ball toward goal before getting tangled up with UC Santa Barbara freshman goalkeeper Austin Mansker, who charged off his line to challenge the effort. Both players were taken out of the play and the loose ball squirted out to Malki on the right edge of the Gaucho penalty area. Malki fired the ball across the penalty area and into the left corner of the net to collect his third goal of 2012.
The Mustangs controlled the run of play into overtime and Pridham – who placed all five of his shot attempts on target – notched his team-leading ninth goal in the 96th minute by taking a feed from senior forward Chris Gaschen and firing past Mansker.
Pridham became the first Mustang since Danny Calderon in 2003 to notch nine goals in a season.
Friday's contest marked the 10th time during the previous 11 meetings between Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara that the matchup was decided by a single goal or drawn.
Cal Poly continues action when hosting Sacramento State inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m.