The UCSB women’s lacrosse club team confronted a task this year that few teams ever have to face. Santa Barbara was, however, able to achieve its season-long goal of making the playoffs, and accomplished a number of feats on its journey to a 4-6 record.The Gauchos’ sub-par record, however, was an indication of the challenges the team faced. Following the 1999-2000 season, the team made a collective decision to not have any coaches affiliated with the management of the program. Instead, they would have a trio of captains heading up the squad, all sharing in the administrative and practice-planning duties necessary to run the team. The Gaucho captains found out how overwhelming these duties could be from the start.”We really didn’t realize how much work it would be,” junior co-captain Amanda Nelson said of her obligations.Beyond the numerous duties involved in making a team run smoothly, at times it was difficult for the captains to assume a coaching role, considering they were also players on the team.”It was hard to be a disciplinarian with people who are your peers,” senior co-captain Melissa Lum said. “From the coaching perspective, it was hard during games to figure out the team’s problems. It’s difficult to make adjustments when you are on the field because you don’t see what you would see off it.”Though UCSB finished under .500, many of the squad’s losses were close. Four of Santa Barbara’s six defeats were decided by merely one goal, earning them the title “One-goal Wonders” by senior Amber Pape. Nearly all of the games were Gaucho comebacks that fell just a little short.”If we just had one more minute in each of those games, I really feel that we would have won,” Nelson said. “We were definitely a second half team. It always took us an entire half before we were all fully into the game. We always pulled through, but a lot of times, it was just a little too late.”Santa Barbara did something it hadn’t done in five years when it traveled to Arizona to beat the Wildcats on their own field.Even with a 4-6 record, the Gauchos were able to make the playoffs as the #4 seed in the southern section of the Western Women’s Lacrosse League. This placement pitted them against Central Coast rival #1 Cal Poly, who continued its undefeated streak in this first round to end the season for the Gauchos.Even though there were problems with not having a coach, the players gained experience on how to rely on each other. The absence of a coach allowed for a foundation of team unity. This unification is part of what allowed the Gauchos to achieve the success they did on the field.”We did a lot of team bonding this year,” senior Amber Pape said. “We were really unified, and I think that definitely affected our play.”Leading the team offensively for the Gauchos were seniors Lum and Pape, who topped the team in goals scored. The two brought a wealth of experience in their final year with the club, after three years of Gaucho lacrosse in addition to the years they played for their high school club.Women’s lacrosse in California is far different than most collegiate sports due to the limited popularity of the sport on the West Coast. The majority of the players on the UCSB team did not begin playing the sport until they actually got to college. One of those players was senior defender Krissy Boeche, who began playing during the fall of her freshman year. Boeche finished her career with the Gauchos playing her best season in a Gaucho skirt at the point position.The three prominent seniors moving on will allow room for new players to shine. Sophomore center Kierston Wilhite, sophomore second home Jaime Tracy, junior defensive wing Meghan Brown and junior third man Brittany Little all have the potential to have breakout seasons in the oncoming year. Nelson and junior co-captain Beth Loveless are two returning players that Santa Barbara will be looking to for leadership and experience; both midfielders will be in their fourth year with the club. “The loss of these three seniors will definitely be felt next year,” Loveless said. “But we are very optimistic about next season because we will have a number of strong returners.”