The UCSB men’s club lacrosse team cruised through their first road weekend in style, grinding out a pair of wins against two very tough Washington and Stanford teams. The Gauchos (3-0 overall, 1-0 Southwestern Lacrosse Conference) first faced Washington Saturday, and despite letting the Huskies blast out to a 5-2 first quarter lead, Santa Barbara rode the wave of senior attack Brendan Sindell’s six goals to close out a 14-11 win. After giving UW some tough love on Valentine’s Day, the Gauchos parlayed five first-quarter goals into a tight 10-9 win against Stanford. Sindell, who is the seventh-highest scorer in the country thanks to 10 goals on the weekend, was humble both about the wins and his own contributions.
“I’m glad we got the wins,” Sindell said. “We came out with two victories that definitely are a boost. We still need to keep improving; we need to get a lot better. [Scoring-wise] I was just in the right spot at the right time.”
The young Gaucho squad opened up its first away game of the year in shaky form: Five Washington goals in the first quarter left UCSB definitely feeling the loss of injured senior all-American defender Chris Schaible. However, after the early jitters got shaken out, Santa Barbara blanked the Huskies in the second quarter and ran away with the win. Junior midfielder Ryan Sanders said that with a lack of defenders on the team, a lot of new players have been rotated in and out of the back, and it takes time for them to get working.
“That was only our second game, and without [Schaible] we are kind of still working some things out and we are still working some people into [the defensive lineup],” Sanders said. “As the game went on, and definitely as we saw in our game against Stanford, we started to settle down and work as a team. Our goalies really stepped it up and our young guys got some chances to get on the field and really stepped it up. It was really good to see those freshmen begin to play well.”
Sunday it was the Gauchos with a five-goal first quarter followed by a goose egg in the second. A stout Cardinal defense that held Santa Barbara to 34 shots, 12.5 below the team’s average over the first two games, but UCSB held strong in the back and brought a 7-7 tie into the fourth period. Sanders said that with the game knotted entering the last stanza, the Gauchos’ top players decided that, after putting up a solid fight all game with a young team, losing was out of the question. Both teams notched goals in the final period, but UCSB managed to score just one more.
“It was huge for us to see our team deal with adversity,” Sanders said. “Last year we ran over teams, but this year it’s a little different. It was great to see our team go down a little bit and then come back in the fourth quarter. All the starters grouped up before the fourth to talk, and we decided that losing was something this program just will not and does not do.”