Early goals lead Banana Slugs to 2-1 victory over Chico State.

Early goals lead Banana Slugs to 2-1 victory over Chico State.

CHICO - UC Santa Cruz scored two first half goals and then held off a second half rally to defeat CCAA leaders Chico State 2-1 Saturday night.

UC Santa Cruz improved to 3-7-1 and broke a three-game losing streak.

The Slugs started the game hot against the Wildcats, getting the first three shots of the game in the first 20 minutes.

The Slug struck first in the 27th minute, when Dominique Royall pounced on a rebounded shot and buried it at the left post for the lead. It was the first goal for UCSC in 360 minutes and first goal the Wildcats allowed in 622 minutes, giving the visitors a boost of momentum.  "The first half was our finest soccer of the season," said head coach Mike Runeare. "The guys played with tremendous passion and commitment to each other."

UCSC doubled their lead 1:06 before the half. Keith McCarty scored his first goal of the year when he volleyed a poor clearance from the edge of the box.

Chico State started with better possession in the second half, tallying two shots in the first six minutes but both attempts went wide.

Chico State pulled one back in the 67th minute when Jeremiah Egujie finished a cross. Egujie nearly tied it three minutes later but his shot hit the post.

The Wildcats kept the pressure on and had a great look in the 76th minute but Andrew Pimentel came up with a great save. Four minutes later, the Wildcats had a shot hit the crossbar, and Pimentel came up big again in the 87th minute with a save.

Chico State had one final foray in the final minute, but UCSC cleared away a scramble after a corner kick to run out the clock.

"Andrew made several outstanding saves and the defense's commitment to keeping the ball out of the goal resulted in our biggest win of the year," Runeare said.

Chico State had an 18-8 shot advantage and 5-1 advantage in corner kicks. Pimentel had six saves on the night.


The Slugs continue against Division II competition when the host Academy of Art Tuesday at 3:00.