The magical start continues for the undefeated UC Santa Barbara women’s soccer team as they improve to a spectacular 5-0 record after yet another shut-out win on Sunday against the Utah State Aggies. The Gauchos have not seen a start like this in over 20 years, and it has earned them a spot in the top 10 regional rankings.
Along with the Gauchos perfect 5-0 season comes high expectations and an increased pressure to win. However, Santa Barbara is clearly feeding off of the pressure as their winning streak is building momentum.
Strong statements on both offense and defense led the Gauchos to a suspenseful 1-0 victory over Utah State, as both sophomore midfielder Madeline Gibson and sophomore goalkeeper Brittney Rogers each gave solid performances that contributed to the Gaucho victory.
Though Sunday’s game was a well-earned win for the Gauchos, the Aggies did not make it easy and put up a fight for the entirety of the game. While the Gauchos took eight shots in the first half, not one would see the goal or even come in contact with Aggie keeper Maggie Richey. UCSB held Utah State to only three goal attempts in the first half, however, the Aggies would prove to have better accuracy as all three required vital saves from Rogers.
Utah State continued to apply pressure into the second half as they ripped another six shots with three coming close to the goal. The Gauchos, however, turned on the heat in the 60th minute when senior defender Savannah Francis made a difficult cross to the foot of junior forward Amanda Ball.
Ball immediately ripped a shot, but it was blocked by Richey who did all she could to deflect the ball back out into the box. Gibson, in good positioning and about six yards out, eyed the loose ball and attacked the rebound to slam the ball into the back of the net.
After the Gaucho goal in the 60th minute, the Aggies stiffened their defense and worked hard on offense to score the equalizer. In the 79th minute, Aggie standout forward Wesley Hamblin penetrated the Gaucho defense with a header toward the goal that barely skimmed the crossbar. Shortly after, Aggie forward Jessica Brooksby ripped a shot toward the goal where Rogers blocked it with one of her best saves of the season.
The match was hard fought and displayed aggressive play by both teams. Utah State finished the game with 11 fouls while UCSB tallied 13. The Gauchos were particularly disruptive in the second half when they were called for 11 fouls, yet it was solid teamwork in all phases of the game that would earn them this 1-0 victory.
Rogers finished the game with six saves and now has four consecutive shutouts this season. She has not allowed a single goal all season and is currently tied for first with a perfect save percentage in the NCAA Division 1 national rankings.
In addition, through Sept. 1 Amanda Ball ranks tied for third in the nation with two game-winning goals and tenth in total goals scored with four. Ball has six goals and one assist over her last three games, and her outstanding play last week earned her the Big West Women’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week honors.
The Gauchos will look to extend their record to 6-0 on Friday, Sept. 9 when they host St. Francis at 7 p.m. in Harder Stadium.