The UCSB women’s field hockey club team is at the midway point of its season with a winning record of 3-2-1. However, Santa Barbara fell to L.A. Club 3-1 at Harder Stadium last Saturday.
On Sunday, UCSB played in a three-game round robin tournament. Santa Barbara played Haverford College to a 1-1 tie and beat Cal Poly 2-0 and UCLA 3-0. The Gauchos had previously defeated the Bruins 6-1 on Oct. 6.
The Gauchos found themselves in a hole at halftime down 3-0. At halftime UCSB Head Coach Abbie Gaylord told her players that they needed to focus on passing, working the ball up the sideline and communicating with each other.
Inspired by their coach’s advice, the team picked up its intensity and scored early in the second half on a short corner. Captain Kelly Utsumi said the players were “proud of their second half [performance]” for scoring early and keeping the opposition from scoring.
The girls dominated the second half by taking 15 shots. According to Utsumi, UCSB had underestimated its opponent and started the game overconfident.
“[L.A. Club was] obviously older, but skilled stick-wise,” Utsumi said.
L.A. Club is a squad with several women that have refereed and have even coached some of the women throughout the players’ high school careers. Some of the players on L.A. Club have played on national teams. Jo Szafirski, the Gauchos’ goalie and captain, was playing against her former coach from Edison High School in Huntington Beach.
“It was a little strange, but I’ve played against her before in scrimmages,” Szafirski said.
The Gauchos have gotten off to a slower start than usual since schools and clubs they are used to playing have not fielded squads this season. Davis and Pepperdine, both universities that UCSB played regularly, dropped their field hockey programs
“[Our] biggest problem is finding teams to play,” Szafirski said.
The Gauchos have no games scheduled this weekend but will play two more games on Oct. 27 and Nov. 3. Santa Barbara will be looking to add games to its tentative schedule. The team would like to get as many games in as possible before the Club Sport Championships start Nov. 10.
Gaylord took on nine freshmen this year and expects to lose seven seniors at the end of the season. Although it has been a challenge to work in new players, the team recognizes this year and next year as times to restructure and rebuild.
“[The future] is exciting and promising, as there is a lot of talent out there,” Gaylord said. “There are a lot of young rookies that definitely add depth.”
Jenny Patterson describes the relationships of her teammates as “amazing on and off the field.”
Gaylord recognizes that the girls have bonded and shared in good times. The squad is now working toward developing cohesion as a unit.
“We are working well together as a team,” Utsumi said. “And it’s starting to show in games.”