Timing is everything.
At least it has been for the UCSB women’s soccer team. The squad looks to keep its three-game winning streak alive tonight at 6 in a match against Weber State.
After a three-game skid to start the season where the Gauchos (3-3) lost all of their home games, Santa Barbara went on a tear, winning three consecutive games on the road. Tonight UCSB will look to bring that road luck back with them under the lights of Harder Stadium. Though the squad is winless at home, they believe it to be a matter of timing rather than anything else.
“It’s all timing,” UCSB Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “We happened to have three home games, we lost all three, and learned some things that were missing from our game. We learned that our defensive pressure wasn’t what it needed to be, and spent an entire week working on that concept.”
Since the Gauchos made that adjustment in their defense they have allowed only one goal in three games. That statistic not only exhibits the dynamic performances of senior goalkeeper Mary Gleason, but also the efforts of junior Katie Wilson and senior Kim O’Leary, both central defenders who have “really come on in the last three games in organizing the defense,” Stumpf said.
Also contributing to Santa Barbara’s success on the defensive end of the field is senior midfielder Emily Hutchinson. She started the first four games of the season before being sidelined for a game when an elbow to the forehead necessitated six stitches.
“Emily Hutchinson has been a real surprise this season,” Stumpf said. “She came in fit and with a great attitude. She has played well ever since [coming back from her injury].”
The 2001 Gauchos play a different style of soccer than they have in years past. UCSB has added a more athletic dimension to its game, and the team is more offensively potent. The 2000 campaign struggled throughout the season to score goals. That has changed this year, which is evident in earlier games when the team scored two goals against USD, four against Westmont and three against San Jose State.
“Our set this year is much more offense oriented,” senior captain Kathryn Fox said. “We play at a faster pace, pressuring the ball all over the field. We try to get the ball forward as fast as we can, and attack from the wings.”
Coming in to challenge the Gauchos’ style is Weber State out of Utah. The Wildcats return their four top scorers (who were all newcomers last season) from their 2000 campaign, in which they finished 4-12-2, and missed the postseason tournament for the first time in school history.
WSU has bulked up their line up with a troop of talented newcomers, who will join sophomore forward Natalie Hensley (23 points last season), junior Eliesha Miltenberger (8 points) and junior Jennifer Consnyka (6 points) on the field in a duel with the Gauchos.
“They [WSU] got a lot of good recruits this year and are coming off of a 4-1 win over Long Beach State,” Hutchinson said. “We are playing really well too, so it should be a good game.”