Back in action for the first time since winning the Women’s Division Intercollegiate Associates National Title last season, the UCSB women’s lacrosse team wasted no time in proving that they have not lost a step from last season. The Gauchos wrecked UC San Diego 18-0 on Saturday and edged Claremont Colleges 10-8 on Sunday to start the season 2-0 despite losing five players to graduation, including reigning Player of the Year Katie Moran.
Almost from the whistle it was clear that UCSD was overmatched. Under two minutes in, junior midfielder Alyssa Nelsen scored the first goal off an assist from senior defenseman Monora Seth. San Diego had no answer for UCSB’s high-powered offense, and at halftime it was already 12-0 in favor of the Gauchos.
“Our score differential against UCSD is about the same every year but, this time controlling them like we did and allowing zero goals was an improvement on controlling the game, as was our defense playing well and getting good goal keeping,” Head Coach Paul Ramsey said.
The second half was in many ways the same as the first. UCSB resumed scoring about five minutes into the half, when sophomore midfielder Megan Dawe launched in her second of three goals off an assist from junior attacker and captain Ashley Antoon-Algieri to make the score 13-0. Around this time, Ramsey decided to pull most of his starters from the game to rest them for Sunday and so that they did not unnecessarily embarrass San Diego.
“We did pretty much shut it down in the second half because it doesn’t do anyone any good for the winning team to score 25 goals in a blowout,” Ramsey said.
Over the course of the game, the Gauchos outshot San Diego 31-7, and sophomore goalie Jeni Centner recorded her first career shutout on a day when Santa Barbara put on an offensive clinic.
Sunday’s game proved more of a challenge for the Gauchos, as they took on NCAA DIII Claremont Colleges in the Surfside Cup. Once again, UCSB opened the scoring early off an unassisted goal from freshman midfielder Katie Mitchell. UCSB was up 4-1 with 16 minutes remaining in the half when Claremont went on a three-goal run to tie the game at four apiece. Six minutes before the end of the half, however, senior midfielder and captain Maggie Aker scored to give the Gauchos the lead going in to the break.
Santa Barbara opened the second half scoring four goals to Claremont’s one, but then Claremont ran up another three goals to make it a one-goal game. Then, with six minutes left, Mitchell effectively closed it with her fourth goal of the game off an assist from Nelsen. With the score now 10-8 in favor of the Gauchos, all UCSB had to do was run down the clock to secure the victory and a 2-0 start to the season.
“I would say that opening the season with a 2-0 record is important in that it gives our own team confidence going into the SB Shootout this next weekend,” Aker said.
This weekend UCSB will play host to teams from around the country for the 22nd annual Santa Barbara Shootout. Over the course of four days, UCSB will play five games, with the first coming on Friday at 4:30 p.m. against Lindenwood University. For the Gauchos, this is a chance to prove to the league that they are still the team to beat.
“The league will better understand our program’s strength this year based on the results of the five games that we play this weekend at the SB shootout,” Aker said.