Coming off its first conference win of the season last weekend, the UCSB women’s soccer team went on the road still in contention for qualifying for the Big West Tournament. Despite salvaging a split and defeating Cal State Fullerton 4-2 on Friday, yesterday’s 1-0 loss against UC Riverside mathematically eliminated the Gauchos from the postseason.
“Friday night was great; the Sunday game stings a little bit because I think we’re better than [UC Riverside],” Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “In addition to that, it would’ve moved us up two or three spots in conference; we would’ve kept the outside chance of getting into the Big West Tournament.”
UC Santa Barbara moves to 5-11-2 overall and 2-5-1 in conference play. With only seven points earned and one game left in the year, the Gauchos will be left on the outside looking in as only the top four teams in the league will compete for the Big West title.
After an impressive offensive output against Fullerton, the Gauchos struggled finding the back of the net Sunday against Riverside. UCR took an early lead, scoring in the third minute on junior midfielder Andrea Morales’ shot from a set piece.
The goal seemed to settle down the Gauchos, who then took control of the game for the entire duration of the match, even forcing a penalty kick, which was blocked by the Highlander goalkeeper. Despite outplaying UCR in every aspect, the Gauchos could not finish their opportunities.
“We took more shots, we took more corner kicks, we even earned ourselves a penalty kick, but we just did not finish our chances,” Stumpf said. “I think the girls are a little disappointed in themselves because I think we let one slip away.”
In Friday’s game, the Gauchos faced a Fullerton team that had only allowed four total goals in conference entering the match. However, UCSB capitalized on its only three shots in the first half, scoring the trio of goals in a 15 minute span.
Sophomore midfielder/forward Indiana Mead opened the scoring for the Gauchos in the 15th minute, followed by freshman midfielder/forward Angelisa Cortez’s third goal of the season a minute later. After the Titans cut the lead in half, senior midfielder Erin Ortega scored to send the Gauchos into halftime with a 3-1 advantage.
Cal State Fullerton came out of halftime pressuring the UCSB backline, outshooting the Gauchos 12-6 in the second half, but junior goalkeeper Makenna Henry was the defensive stopper of the game, coming up big with nine saves on the night. Freshman forward/midfielder Mayra Almazan sealed UCSB’s first road conference win of the season with her first collegiate goal in the 70th minute.
“The shooting Friday night was significantly better and interestingly enough we played a better team on Friday and we snuck four [goals] in,” Stumpf said. “Friday night was a great performance for our team. Once again they played hard; the possession was really nice.”
Santa Barbara’s four goals were the most allowed this season by the Titans, who came in as one of the top-ranked defenses in the Big West. These four goals were also the most scored this season by the Gauchos, who came in struggling and won only their second game in the last nine matches.
UCSB will now prepare itself for the Blue-Green rivalry game against Cal Poly this Sunday at San Luis Obispo in its final match of the season.