In its first two games at Harder Stadium since mid-September, the UCSB women’s soccer team beat Cal State Northridge 1-0 on Friday night but then lost a heartbreaker to #19 UC Irvine 2-1 after two overtimes on Sunday afternoon.
[media-credit id=20169 align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]“I’m encouraged by the effort,” Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “We didn’t see the same intensity and effort in Long Beach [last Sunday]. I was wondering if we could put two games together [in a weekend], and the good news is that we can.”
The Gauchos (6-6-2 overall, 2-2 Big West) also split their first two conference matches of the season last weekend on the road. In their second match, a 3-1 loss to Long Beach State on Sunday afternoon, some players on the UCSB squad suggested that the team was lethargic and communicating poorly. Five of the team’s six wins have come at their own Meredith Field.
“The good news is that we were pressing in the game [against Irvine],” Stumpf said. “We were continuing to put players forward and we knew we were going to be exposed. But when you chase as much as we did, sooner or later you’re going to run out of gas.”
UC Irvine (12-1-2 overall, 4-0 Big West) scored the golden goal on Sunday during the match’s second overtime period. Gaucho freshman goalkeeper Makenna Henry had six saves in the match — including two in the 106th minute — but Irvine’s 17-7 shot advantage caught up to her when forward Alexis Rafael one-timed a pass from Tanya Taylor to win it for Irvine in the 109th minute.
“It was a pretty tough pill to swallow,” Henry said. “You fight for 120-something minutes and you just can’t bring it home. It was tough, but we definitely learned a lesson, I think, and grew from the loss.”
Senior forward Kailyn Kugler converted a penalty kick at the 24:58 mark for what would end up being the Gauchos’ only goal of the match. She also provided the Gauchos with their lone goal in Friday’s match against Northridge (8-6-0 overall, 3-1 Big West), when she caught a rebound off of forward Erin Ortega’s miss in the 32nd minute. Kugler has four goals on the season, with the Gauchos going scoreless in the 200 minutes of game-time she missed while she was out of the lineup for two games with a strained quad muscle.
“She definitely makes a difference,” Stumpf said.
After the Gauchos’ first goal, Irvine responded in the 40th minute after a long ball to its midfielder, Zuri Walker, hit the ball above a diving Henry.
With the split, the team is currently in fourth place in the conference. As the only 4-0 team in the conference, the Anteaters hold first place ahead of second-place Northridge.
On Friday, the Gauchos continue the remaining three games of their five-game homestand against UC Davis, which has yet to win a conference match.
“We’re definitely looking for more [from ourselves],” Henry said. “We’re really hungry still and I think we will respond well and play with a lot of energy. I think teams are going to be pretty worried about us.”