It may be too soon to find her on the front of a Wheaties box, but don’t be surprised to see Jen Borcich on front of the “Breakfast of Champions” in the not too distant future.
This freshman forward on the UCSB women’s soccer team is the complete package. Borcich is the real deal, and that has become even more apparent in the last couple games when she has really come on strong, notching her first collegiate hat trick in a 3-1 win over Weber State. Then, only two days later, she recorded her fourth goal of the season in a 2-1 loss at Fresno State.
“Jen is a great player to have on the field for us,” senior goalkeeper Mary Gleason said. “She has come in with a lot of confidence for a freshman and she has really stepped up and played well up top.”
Scoring goals has become quite commonplace for the 5’10” freshman out of Sacramento, who has been netting goals on the soccer field since the age of five. She became involved with the sport at this young age while her parents coached her older sisters’ recreational teams.
“My entire family is all very active in sports,” Borcich said. “My sisters and I have participated in different sports for as long as I can remember.”
Though soccer was the first sport Borcich began playing at the organized level, it was softball that she first began playing competitively. In middle school, however, she opted to turn in her softball glove for a pair of shin guards.
“All my friends played soccer at that age,” Borcich said. “That was part of the reason I decided to give up competitive softball for soccer.”
Borcich was a three-sport athlete at McClatchy High School lettering in basketball and softball as well as soccer. She finished her four-year high school soccer career as the second all-time leading scorer while being named to the All-City team three times. She led McClatchy to a Metro League title in her junior campaign and was named the Metro League Offensive Player of the Year after her final season. Borcich played club soccer for the Sacramento United Magic, where she scored 53 goals and tallied 20 assists over the course of her final two seasons. She was additionally a member of the Northern California State team in 2000.
With all of these individual and team achievements, it is no wonder that the UCSB coaching staff recruited her to become a Gaucho. According to Head Coach Paul Stumpf, there are six different categories in which they evaluate prospective players, including size, speed, technical ability, tactical knowledge, competitiveness and intangibles.
“J.B. scores very highly in all of these categories,” Stumpf said. “The special quality about her is her personality and character. She has a great work rate; she takes a lot of responsibility if she doesn’t score, and she is well-liked and respected within the team already.”
As for what brought Borcich to UCSB, she has always felt a strong connection to the beach atmosphere. Her mother Cynthia lived in Hawaii for some time, while her sister Elizabeth is a junior softball player for Long Beach State.
“My dream has always been to go down south and play soccer by the ocean,” Borcich said. “That’s exactly what I have here at UCSB.”
After weeks of intense preseason training, things were looking to pay off for Borcich when she netted four goals in the alumni game to kick off the season. With a performance like that, expectations were high on the young forward going into the season. The season, however, did not go as planned early on for Borcich, who went scoreless in the squad’s first seven games.
“My effort was there every game, I just couldn’t score goals,” Borcich said. “I felt that [scoring] was my role on the team, so I was very disappointed in myself.”
Then Weber State came to town. And the rest is history.
Borcich’s talents extend far beyond the soccer field. She also has an intense passion for music, listing Dave Matthews Band, Jimi Hendrix and Santana as some of her favorite artists. Once the squad heard her sing a few notes, the Gauchos began a new pre-game tradition in the team locker room.
“She has the most amazing voice,” senior captain Kathryn Fox said. “She sings ‘Amazing Grace’ [DN1]before every game, and it gives us chills. It gets us fired up to play.”
As tremendous of a player as this freshman phenom is, her teammates and coaches agree that she is an even better person.
Freshman teammate Molly Martin, who grew up with Borcich, calls her friend one of the most caring people she knows.
“It’s really exciting to be going to school with her,” Martin said. “We’ve known each other since we were seven, and she’s just an amazing person. We have so much fun together and she is a very comforting friend.”