Lady Luck was not on the side of the UCSB women’s soccer team this weekend, as the Gauchos lost a pair of overtime matches at home to Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton.
Santa Barbara (5-7-2 overall, 0-2 in the Big West) led by a goal against Fullerton (6-5-2, 1-1) on Sunday before allowing the equalizer in the 86th minute. The Gauchos went on to lose the match in overtime on a penalty kick made possible by a handball in the box.
“It’s just heartbreaking,” Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “As a coach of a group of kids that work as hard as they do, it’s so hard when you don’t feel like your team gets rewarded for all their efforts.”
Freshman forward Indiana Mead scored the first goal of the match, putting the Gauchos up 1-0 in the 81st minute before Fullerton increased their offensive attack. After forcing a corner kick, junior forward Stacey Fox put a header into the back of the net, tying the score at 1-1.
“With eight minutes left you just kind of want to kill the clock and keep possession,” sophomore goalkeeper Makenna Henry said. “We didn’t take care of the ball and that was the biggest issue. It shouldn’t have happened. It was just poor on our part not taking care of the ball.”
Once in overtime, a contorversial handball call was made on Gaucho senior defender Alexa Stringer in the 93rd minute, giving Fullerton sophomore midfielder Kishi Smith the opportunity to score the game-winning goal on a penalty kick.
“Our defender had her hands at her side so it’s not like she reached out,” Stumpf said. “It’s pretty questionable whether she was even in the box when the ball hit her.”
Smith’s goal gave the Titans their fifth win in their last seven games and added momentum heading into the heart of league play.
“Our confidence picked up a lot,” Fox said after her team’s victory. “Feeling the energy from that goal and having that energy carry on through overtime kind of pushed us through it and made it happen.”
In a cruel twist of fate, Santa Barbara had also lost Friday’s match against Long Beach 2-1 on a free kick in overtime. After a Gaucho handball call in the box in the 91st minute, the 49ers were able to capitalize and complete the comeback.
“Honestly it’s unreal,” Henry said. “For place kicks you’ve got to guess and go; you can’t wait until they kick otherwise it’s in the net. That was just unfortunate because my team fought all the way through. How does that happen? Two overtimes and first minute placekicks?”
Falling behind to Long Beach in the first half, UCSB tied the score at 1-1 with a goal from freshman midfielder Kelly McGrath in the 56th minute. In overtime, the Gaucho handball call gave Long Beach senior midfielder Shawna Gordona penalty kick to give the 49ers the win.
“We put ourselves in a huge hole as far as conference goes,” Stumpf said. “The word is it sucks, but it just breaks your heart for these kids because they just work so damn hard.”
Long Beach State improved to 9-3-1 (2-0 Big West) after thrashing Cal Poly 6-0 on Sunday and is in first place in the Big West. The Gauchos stand in last place in the conference after the two devastating losses.
“[We feel] pretty down,” Mead said. “It just feels like we don’t get any luck. We’ve been playing great. We’re working hard in practice, working hard in games, there is not much we can do.”
UCSB resumes play next Friday when they travel to Irvine before playing at Northridge on Sunday.