SALEM, ORE. - UC Santa Cruz played against host Willamette on even terms or better for 88 minutes, but it was Willamette who got the last kick of the game and made it count.
Willamette won its first game of the year with a 1-0 victory over UCSC, who fell to 0-4.
The loss was UCSC's fourth-straight one-goal loss in 2017 and was almost exactly one year after their last visit to Salem ended in a 1-0 loss.
After being shutout in their previous game against Pacific, the Slugs came out firing. They had five shots in the first 13 minutes, with Cole Fox having a header from a corner go high,Jacon Myers Norys having his shot save and then Hector Mestre having his rebound swept off the line. The visitors had a 10-3 shot advantage and had five corners to Willamette's none in the first 45 minutes, but couldn't break through.
The fast game kept both teams searching for the breakthrough. UCSC had a great chance in the 66th minute but Fox's shot was saved by Bearcats keeper Marco Gonzalez-Yanez. Ninety seconds later, Willamette countered and almost got on the scoreboard when Mack van der Velde let a shot from about 20 yards but it smacked against the crossbar and the Slugs scrambled to cover it.
After Lukas Holocher sailed a shot high with 3 minutes, the game looked to be winding down to overtime. However, 20 seconds later, Nicholas Ballenger took a long through pass and slotted it home from 12 yards. It was Willamette's first goal of the year, and they then defended for the final 104 seconds for the win.
The physical game featured 25 fouls -10 by the Banana Slugs- and three yellow cards, with two being shown to the Slugs. UCSC outshot Willamette 15-11.
The Slugs finish their Oregon trip on Tuesday at George Fox.