SACRAMENTO, Calif. - In a defensive battle between the top two teams in the Big West North division, UC Santa Barbara got the only goal of the game in the 81st minute and clinched the regular season division title with a 1-0 win over Sacramento State on Wednesday at Hornet Field.
Despite the loss, Sacramento State (8-7-2, 4-4-1 Big West) clinched the No. 2 seed in the North for the Big West Tournament when UC Davis was defeated by Cal Poly in overtime just minutes after the Hornet game concluded on Wednesday.
Sacramento State will host a Big West Tournament game for the first time in program history next Saturday, Nov. 5, hosting the No. 3 seed from the Big West South division with a 3 p.m. kick time at Hornet Field.
UC Santa Barbara (10-5-3, 6-0-3 Big West) clinched its fourth straight Big West North title and earned a bye into the semifinal round of the conference tournament. UCSB will host a semifinal game on Wednesday, Nov. 9.
The Hornets played a strong game against the Gauchos on Wednesday and were the more dangerous team for most of the contest. Sacramento State had a 13-5 overall shot edge and was 4-2 in shots on goal.
Sacramento State did not allow a single UCSB shot on goal before conceding the game's only score with less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation time. Neither team had a shot on goal in the first half, while the Hornets had four total shots but couldn't get one on target.
The home team created better scoring chances in the second half but goalkeeper Titouan Le Roux made four saves. The Hornets came close to goals on several other shots that missed just wide or high.
UC Santa Barbara scored on what was really its first dangerous shot of the game. Jan Ilskens led teammate Ahinga Selemani on a horizontal run on top of the Hornet box, and the Gaucho striker fired home a shot into the upper-90 along the right post.
After the goal, Hornet senior Andrew Gosselin had a header try in front of the Gaucho goal but missed just high. Senior Nate Nugen had a shot blocked and missed a rebound just wide in the 86th minute, then with 37 seconds left senior Alex Bettencourt had a 22-yard free kick miss just right.
Sacramento State will not know its opponent for the first round Big West Tournament game until late Saturday. CSUN, UC Riverside, and Cal State Fullerton have all clinched postseason berths from the South but the three teams are separated by just one point pending tonight's results.
The Hornets conclude the regular season Saturday night at Cal Poly. The Mustangs trail UC Davis by one point for the final Big West North berth in the conference tournament.