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Cal Poly Battles UCSB to 1-1 Blue-Green Rivalry Draw to Close Season

Cal Poly Battles UCSB to 1-1 Blue-Green Rivalry Draw to Close Season

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Hannah Wendelken gave the UC Santa Barbara women's soccer team an early second-half lead at Cal Poly on Sunday afternoon, but freshman Mackenzie George answered with an equalizer only three minutes later, as the Mustangs and Gauchos played to a 1-1 Blue-Green Rivalry draw at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.

Fifty-four seconds into the second half, UCSB's Shaelan Murison started the go-ahead sequence with a throw-in just a few yards up from the right corner flag. Her inbound landed deep inside the penalty area, where Jessica Wright settled the ball, back-passing to Katherine Sheehy, who maneuvered a few dribbles to her left before setting up Wendelken along the left edge of the goal box.

On her second touch, Wendelken attempted a right-footed shot. Mustang keeper Sophia Brown came out to challenge, deflecting the ball and impeding its progress, but not enough to prevent the score, as the ball bounced overhead, beyond the goal line and into the back of the net to establish the 1-0 lead for the Gauchos (12-6-1 overall, 5-2-1 Big West).

Cal Poly took just 2:53 to respond, however. George, out of Woodcreek High in Roseville, Calif., assumed possession at midfield, taking off down the right side dribbling surrounded by a pack of four Gaucho defenders. 

She broke free of all four just as she approached the top of the 6-yard box, where she beat UCSB's Hanna DeWeese going low, aiming just inside the near post, to bring the Mustangs (2-12-5 overall, 2-4-2 Big West) level in the 49th minute.

George, one of 24 players called to attend the USWNT U-19 camp in May, was one of nine true freshmen to play in the season finale.

Neither team could find another goal over the ensuing 62 minutes, as it was the third consecutive 1-1 tie between the two schools.

It was also the Mustangs' ninth overtime game of 2018, including the eighth double-OT contest.

Ava McCray accounted for a pair of first-half shots on goal, as her 25th-minute header was snared out of the air by DeWeese, who also came up with a stop upon 28'. Two more freshmen, Brooke Oleson (63') and Megan Hansen (83'), also shot on target during the second half, but DeWeese saves kept the match deadlocked. 

With just a minute-and-a-half left in the second OT, Kelly Kessloff centered a final shot between the posts, but DeWeese dove to the field for a crucial save. Ashley Kirchick came in for the rebound and momentarily appeared to have scored a late golden goal, but was whistled offside. Neither side got off another shot in the final 1:18.

Brown made six saves, finishing with 113 for the year, tied for No. 3 in school history in the single-season category. The junior's career total now stands at 276, also No. 3 all-time at Cal Poly.

UCSB, which came into the day hoping for a regular-season conference championship (instead claimed by Long Beach State thanks to its simultaneous 3-1 victory over CSUN), advanced to the Big West Tournament as the No. 2 seed, set to face No. 3 UC Irvine at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, at UCI.

The winner of the Gaucho-Anteater semifinal will move on to face either top-seeded LBSU or UC Davis (the fourth & final seed) in the title game, scheduled for 1 p.m. Nov. 4 on FOX Sports Prime Ticket.

Photo © Owen Main