LA VERNE - Izel Gutierrez drove a header home in the 88th minute as UC Santa Cruz ended their season-opening road trip with a 1-0 win at La Verne Sunday morning.
UCSC improved to 1-1 and broke a 16-game regular season losing streak to SCIAC foes.
The Banana Slugs dominated possession throughout and kept the pressure on the hosts, but the Leopard defense repelled everything. UCSC's best chance in the first half came with 7 minutes left when Chella Grattet forced a steal, but her shot was safely smothered by La Verne goalie Hanien Samara.
Overall, UCSC had a 4-1 advantage on corner kicks and a 17-2 shot advantage, including 6-0 in the second half.
With time winding down, junior defender Tea Lopes sent a cross from the left flank that connected perfectly with Gutierrez to break the deadlock.
"Our team continued to work throughout the 90 minutes," said head coach Lauren Nadler. "We defended and attacked as a group, and were able to switch the point of attack to find Tea out wide. She sent a great ball in to Izel who headed it into the back of the net."
Freshman goalie Alyssa Diaz-Tucker had two first half saves for her first career shutout.
"Everyone on this team worked hard and did this part to secure this win," said Gutierrez, who attended high school 22 miles west of the La Verne campus in Alhambra. "We know there is a lot more to improve on and I'm excited to see us progress throughout the season."
UCSC returns for their home opener against another SCIAC team when they host Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 11 am Sunday September 8.