Last October, the Gauchos went from a 4-7-1 team to a NCAA tournament team, using a four-game October homestand to turn their season around.
[media-credit name=”Daniel Wade” align=”alignleft” width=”195″][/media-credit]At 6-6-2 (2-2 Big West), the 2010 squad has the same opportunity as it continues its five-game homestand against UC Davis today and Pacific on Sunday.
“Can I say confidently that we can win four in a row? No,” Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “But can we win out the weekend? Yeah. Will it be tough? You bet.”
Last weekend, the Gauchos split home matches after handing Cal State Northridge its first loss in the Big West on Friday and losing 2-1 in double overtime to #19 UC Irvine on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Aggies are currently undergoing a four-game losing streak, three of which were Big West matches.
Pacific (4-6-3 overall), however, looks to be a tougher matchup for the Gauchos after exploding for three goals against Cal State Fullerton last weekend. Before the offensive breakout, the Tigers had scored six goals in their first 12 games.
“With so many players returning, we’re kind of used to [playing in conference],” Stumpf said. “Players that have been here for three years know how we rotate up the field, etcetera. With a group of experienced players, it’s relatively easy [to prepare].”
A majority of the Gauchos’ starting lineup has played against conference opponents two or three times in their careers. The team is also 5-2-0 at home this season.
“Like last season, we’re playing really good soccer but we’re struggling to get goals,” Stumpf said.
Still, the team has outscored its opponents 18 to 16 this season, thanks to the goalkeeping efforts of freshman keeper Makenna Henry. Senior forward Kailyn Kugler leads the team with five goals, scoring each of the team’s two goals last weekend.
UCSB’s 2-2 conference record puts the team in fourth place behind 2-0 Long Beach State, 3-1 Cal State Northridge and 4-0 Irvine. UC Riverside is currently tied with the Aggies for last place, while the Tigers are currently in seventh. Still, Stumpf believes that the Tigers will be in the mix for Big West Tournament contention, where the Gauchos tied Cal Poly last season in the championship to earn an NCAA tournament bid.
“We’re right there with Cal Poly and Pacific,” he said.
Today’s match begins at 5 p.m. and kicks off the team’s efforts to raise breast cancer awareness. The team will don pink ribbons in honor of alumnus and former UCSB soccer player Lori Ortiz Schneider, who will be in attendance at the match. On Sunday, the Gauchos’ match against Pacific is slated to begin at 12 p.m.