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Bulldogs Drop Hard-Fought 3-1 Decision At UC Santa Barbara

Cody Wilkins. (photo by Sam Rubin 95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Cody Wilkins. (photo by Sam Rubin 95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Wilkins Scores For Yale

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Playing in what has been described as "Soccer Heaven," Yale more than held its own against UC Santa Barbara on Friday in front of a big crowd at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. The Gauchos, though, scored the first two goals and held on for a 3-1 victory.

"We anticipated that we would have to absorb a lot of pressure, and we planned for it," said Yale head coach Brian Tompkins. "Our guys executed pretty well, but we had a couple of lapses, and [UC Santa Barbara] is a team that can punish lapses quickly."

Cody Wilkins scored for the Bulldogs. It was the first goal since the 2010 season for Wilkins, who missed all of last season with an injury and was limited to eight games in 2011.

"It was a nice personal moment for Cody," Tompkins said. "There were times when we thought his career might be over. It's a credit to him that he persevered and is now a key offensive player for us."

The victory was the 200th for UC Santa Barbara head coach Tim Vom Steeg, who is in his 15th season at the helm of the program and guided the Gauchos to the 2006 NCAA Championship.

The Gauchos, who received votes in this week's NSCAA national poll, grabbed a 1-0 lead 10 minutes in when Achille Campion scored after Drew Murphy's cross.

It looked like it might be a long night for the Bulldogs when Charlie Miller scored off a corner kick to make it 2-0 at 35:39.

But that's when the tide started to turn. Wilkins pulled Yale within one when he took a feed from Scott Armbrust and fired a shot that beat Gauchos' goalkeeper Josh McNeely with just 35 seconds left in the second half.

"It was a nice piece of work by Scottie to get the ball to Cody, and he finished it," Tompkins said.

The Bulldogs (1-4) outshot Santa Barbara 4-2 in the second half, but the Gauchos tallied the only goal. It came on a scissor kick off the foot of Campion with 25 minutes remaining.

"The third goal was really the backbreaker," Tompkins said. "We had had some chances to tie it."

The game was a homecoming for Yale sophomore Avery Schwartz, a Santa Barbara native. Schwartz holds the Cate School record for goals in a season (38) and goals in a career (101) and was the 2011 Santa Barbara Player of the Year. Last fall, he was the only freshman to appear in all 17 games for the Bulldogs.

UC Santa Barbara perennially leads the nation in attendance, but there were a good number of Bulldog supporters, including numerous California alumni, among the crowd of more than 3,000 on Friday.

"They were loud," Tompkins said. "We get tremendous support.

The Bulldogs continue their California trip on Sunday when they play at Cal Poly at 4 p.m. EDT.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity