The UCSB women’s soccer team began conference play with a hard fought 1-0 win at home against defending Big West Champion Long Beach State on Sunday. This was their second win in a row and their fourth in their last five games. Dylan Lewis’ goal in the 13th minute propelled the Gauchos to the win and improved their record to 5-3-3 overall and 1-0 in the Big West.
Long Beach State won the Big West regular season and tournament championship last year and they were picked to do it again in 2019, according to the Big West Preseason Coaches Poll. They came into Sunday’s match with a 3-7 overall record and some momentum following a 2-1 win at Cal Poly on Thursday. Sunday’s game was a chance for them to make a statement early on in Big West play.
However, it was UCSB that attacked early, as the team put up four shots in the first 13 minutes, with the final attempt finding the net via the left leg of Dylan Lewis and assisted by Shaelan Murison. The goal was Lewis’ second of the season and second in the last two games as she has been putting herself in good positions to score of late. Murison’s four assists of the season lead the team and pair with her team-leading eight goals in their first eleven games.
That was the story of the first half, even though no one else found the net, because the Gauchos managed eight shots which dwarfed the two that Long Beach attempted.
The 49ers did have a great opportunity to even the score early in the second half, when junior Kaylee Ramirez attempted a penalty kick from inside the goal box in the 53rd minute, only for Gaucho keeper Hanna DeWeese to deflect the shot and send it wide right to protect the Gaucho lead. That shot was one of only two shots on goal that Long Beach managed during the match, and both attempts resulted in saves by DeWeese. Her two saves contributed to the second straight complete game shutout for DeWeese and her fifth in total on the year. DeWeese is currently all over the Big West leaderboard in goalkeeping stats; she is fourth in saves with 35, third in save percentage at .778 and first overall in goals-against average at 0.86 goals allowed per game. If her non-conference play can translate to the Big West portion of the schedule, the team will benefit and DeWeese will surely be an All-Conference player.
UCSB won in part due to their offense’s continued attack of the goal, and their 12 shots and six shots on goal tell the story when compared to LBSU’s six shots and two shots on goal. This is the usual formula that Gaucho wins follow, where they are able to wear down the opposing defenders and goalkeeper until someone can slip a ball or two past the goalie. When UCSB is playing well like this, their offensive attack allows their defense to rest while the ball is on the other end, and they then have more energy to defend their own goal.
Another big storyline for this game is that UCSB was without their usual starters Christine Maurer, Emma Vanderhyden and Lynsee Voss. This forced in a lot of new players into roles they are not entirely familiar with, and the reserves clearly stepped up, especially on the defensive end where the goalie never had to do too much work.
Next, the Gauchos will travel up to UC Davis where they will face the Aggies, a team desperate for their first conference win. The game will take place on Thursday Oct. 10 at 4 p.m. in Davis.