Doubling up on an opponent is always good; doubling up on opening day is even sweeter.
Saturday the UCSB men’s club lacrosse team ran conference whipping USC right out of Isla Vista with a 13-6 rout. The Gauchos (1-0 overall, 1-0 Southwestern Lacrosse Conference) scoffed at an early couplet of goals from the Trojans (1-2, 0-1) to burst out with an offensive onslaught that saw four Santa Barbara players score at least a pair. Senior attack Brendan Sindell said that while UCSB played well, they have a lot of room for improvement.
“We played well; we played better [as the game went on],” Sindell said. “It’s promising to know that we can do much better [than we did] and still get a result like that.”
The Trojans, who lost in both meetings with UCSB last year, came out gunning for the home team, and scored off a Gaucho penalty just three minutes into the first quarter. Santa Barbara settled down quickly and tied things up thanks to a goal from sophomore midfielder Nate Wellin, but could only manage to trade a second pair of goals to close out the quarter 2-2. Sindell said that UCSB knew that USC would come out firing, and practiced accordingly.
“Everything we worked on this week, to not come out flat, definitely paid off,” Sindell said. “We did come out a bit flat and that’s expected in our first game. Everyone got comfortable pretty quickly and we started to play better.”
The Gauchos shook off the first quarter to explode in the second with a five goal, 20 shot performance that put the Trojans’ hopes to bed. Junior midfielder Ryan Sanders led in the period with a pair of goals, followed by Sindell with a goal and an assist to one of Sanders’. Senior midfielders Brandon Johnson and George Granelli also found the back of the net in a quarter that featured almost half of Santa Barbara’s total scoring.
Sindell was impressed with the overall offensive performance.
“I think we had over fifty shots, so we didn’t have too much trouble on the offensive end,” Sindell said. “I think for the most part it was good looks, I think we had a lot of good opportunities we didn’t capitalize on. We didn’t really take any unnecessary shots, any wasted shots, so that’s good. The score could have been a lot higher though.”
UCSB, who had pretty much locked the game up at half, went on to outscore USC 6-3 in the second stanza. While the win was impressive, a young Gaucho defense showed the pains of trying to replace senior Chris Schaible, who is sidelined with a preseason broken leg. With captain James Guzik the only senior left in the back, Santa Barbara has pushed up freshmen into a more involved role, which showed potential in their maiden collegiate performances.
With a dominant first-game performance, the Gauchos look good to start the season. The key for them now is to just keep getting better.
“If we keep working like we have there’s no telling what we can do,” Sindell said. “We saw a lot of potential out there, and if we can work up to that, there’s no reason that we can’t be the best team in the country.”