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L.A. Harbor scores in 90th minute to tie Vaqueros, 1-1

Yair Meluka, a freshman forward from Israel, eludes a defender in the first half of Tuesday's season opener. (Photo by PJ Heller/Sevilla Photography)
Yair Meluka, a freshman forward from Israel, eludes a defender in the first half of Tuesday's season opener. (Photo by PJ Heller/Sevilla Photography)

SBCC enjoyed a 1-0 lead for the majority of its men's soccer opener Tuesday night, then watched in disbelief as L.A. Harbor found the net in the final minute of play to salvage a 1-1 tie at La Playa Stadium.

Christopher Robinson, a freshman from Umea, Sweden, scored the first goal of the year in the 28th minute to give the Vaqueros a 1-0 lead. He played a nice give-and-go with defender Saul Sosa and drilled the ball into the upper right corner from the left side.

"We were working as a team and we created that opportunity," said Robinson. "I got a great pass from Saul and it felt great to score the first goal of the season. I felt like we could have put an end to that game earlier. We missed a couple of chances and they got in our heads in the last 10-15 minutes. We were chasing shadows at their end."

In the 90th minute, a ball deflected right onto the foot of Heiner Guzman and he blasted a 16-yard half-volley inside the left post for the equalizer.

SBCC freshman midfielder Stefan Westman had a great look in the third minute but the ball rolled across the penalty area and just wide right. In the 83rd minute, Roni Spektor made a long run and dished it to Kyle Nicklaw, who scored an apparent insurance goal but it was erased by an offsides call.

"It didn't look offside to us but it was very close," said SBCC coach John Sisterson. "The linesman was closest to it and we have to go with that.

"They had a free kick in the 90th minute and the ball goes in and pops back out … that kid stroked it very well, it was a great strike."

Santa Barbara outshot the Seahawks 12-8 and 4-3 in shots on goal.

The Vaqueros had several solid scoring opportunities, including a crossover and narrow miss past the near post by Robinson in the 31st minute. In the 59 th, Robinson's shot was saved and the rebound went right to Fernando Ochoa but he missed to the left.

With four minutes to play, Westman intercepted a pass on a free kick near the box and dribbled for 40 yards in a 3-on-1 breakaway. He passed to Erick Ramirez, whose shot rolled inches wide of the left post.

Gustav Verdouw, a 6-1 freshman from Eugene, Oregon, was solid in goal for the Vaqueros in his first college game. He made a nice save in the fifth minute on a point-blank shot by Brandon Partida and stopped another goal by racing out to beat a forward to the ball and boot it out-of-bounds.

"I feel sorry for him that he played so well and then we conceded one," said Sisterson. "But you can't blame the keeper for that one.

"I thought Roni Spektor played well in the back and Christopher played very well. Alvaro Castillo from Santa Barbara High came in late in the first half and showed a lot of energy. Overall, it was a pleasing performance for a first game."

The Vaqueros are playing their first three at home and seven of their first 10 in La Playa. They'll host San Diego Mesa on Friday at 2 p.m.

Chris Robinson, a freshman forward from Sweden, scored the first goal of the
year at the 27:12 mark. (Photo by PJ Heller/Sevilla Photography)