Now that the preseason is over for the UCSB women’s soccer team, the players have to lace up their cleats and take care of business.
Business begins tonight with the start of Big West play when the Gauchos head to Stockton to battle the University of Pacific. The Gauchos will then hit Cal State Northridge on Sunday.
Santa Barbara (4-5-1 overall, 0-0 Big West) encountered a slow start at the beginning of the preseason, losing its first three games at home. The Gauchos then bounced back with a strong showing midway through the preseason when they won four games in a row, three of them on the road. The play for UCSB then dropped off with two losses and a tie to end preseason play.
“We certainly did not end the preseason as we wanted,” UCSB Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “We had a good team meeting on Tuesday, and admitted the motivation had to come from within the team, and they know that they can do an even better job from here [on out].”
Despite the three-game slump, aspirations for Santa Barbara continue to remain high heading into its first conference games.
“Our goal is to win the Big West and go on to playoffs,” senior defender Kim O’Learysaid.
Santa Barbara certainly has its work cut out for it this weekend. The team will duke it out with UOP (8-3 overall, 1-1 Big West). The Gauchos are looking to kick Pacific while they are down from losing a heartbreaking game 2-1 in double overtime at the hands of Fullerton.
This match will pit two friends and former high school teammates against each other. After sharing the orange and navy of Santa Rosa High School for four years together, senior midfielder Kathryn Fox’s blue will take the same field against Tiger senior midfielder/defender Mariah Metras’ orange for the last time of their collegiate careers.
“It’s always fun to play against [Mariah],” Fox said. “It was definitely weird at first to be on the field with her but not on the same team.”
From Stockton, Santa Barbara will head back down south where it will face Northridge (7-2-1 overall, 1-1 Big West) on Sunday. The Matadors are enjoying the early comforts of a winning season. They are coming off of a weekend where they were blanked by Fullerton on Friday in a 2-0 loss before rounding out the weekend schedule with a 2-1 win over Riverside on Sunday.
The Matadors are led by senior forward Erin Broadwell, who has compiled four goals, two of which were game winners, and one assist in the early part of her final campaign. Freshman forward Lisa Gouveia has also made quite an impact thus far in her rookie season by notching three goals and two assists.
The Gauchos are looking to put their final three games of the preseason behind them and are instead focusing on what they must do in the future to be a successful team.
“We have talked this year about playing intensely and intelligently,” Stumpf said. “If we pick up those two parts of our game, we will be a tougher team to beat.”