What do you get when you combine the rookie class of the UCSB women’s soccer team and two matches at Harder Stadium in the second weekend of Big West play?
A clean sweep.
Santa Barbara (7-6-1 overall, 3-1 Big West) propelled itself to the top of the conference with two dazzling performances on its home field. Friday night the Gauchos shut out visiting Utah State 1-0, then finished their weekend with a dismantling of Idaho, 2-0.
“These two wins have really helped the spirit of our team,” junior defender Lauren Wensel said. “It definitely pulled us together and gave us confidence that we can win against any team.”
It all started under the Harder Stadium lights on Friday night against the Aggies. The lone score of the match came in the 20th minute of action. Freshman midfielder Krystal Sandza sent a ball through to senior captain and midfielder Kathryn Fox. Fox then nailed a cross to freshman forward Erin Griswold, who put the ball in the net to finish the play.
The Gauchos had to count their blessings in the waning moments of the game when the Aggies nearly connected on their final shot of the match. The close call came when Utah State forward Brittany Baugh lofted a shot over the outstretched hands of Gaucho goalkeeper Mary Gleason. The shot, however, was a little too high and bounced off the crossbar. Junior defender Katie Wilson cleared the ball out of the danger zone, and Santa Barbara went on to win the match off of Sandza’s solo goal.
“It was a huge win for us,” Wilson said. “We played a great first half and did what we had to do for the win.”
The Gauchos kicked off their Sunday afternoon in style, wasting little time before getting themselves on the board.
And it was the Gauchos’ freshmen again who made the difference on the scoreboard. The first goal came at the 10:10 mark when Sandza received a back pass from freshman forward Jen Borcich. Sandza brought the ball through the heart of the Vandal defense before drilling a shot from 10 yards out past Idaho goalkeeper Tricia Haynes. Borcich was credited with her fifth assist of the year on Sandza’s goal, while Sandza notched her fifth goal of the season on the play.
The Gauchos’ second score, which would prove to be the final score of the game, was a result of a tremendous play by the freshman standout, Borcich.
Borcich initially took the pass at the Santa Barbara midfield, leaving her the entire offensive area to work with. Three Idaho defenders attempted to stop her, but Borcich would not be stopped. She wove her way through the Vandal defense to face the Vandal keeper one-on-one. Her sixth goal of the season came when she sent the ball past Haynes and into the left side of the goal. Borcich leads UCSB’s squad with 17 points on six goals and five assists. Her 17 points are nine more than last year’s season leader sophomore Alex Richey.
With these two wins, the Gauchos are riding high with a 3-1 record in Big West play.
“As far as winning conference is concerned, our destiny is in our own hands,” junior forward Erica Perrotta said.