The UCSB women’s soccer team is on a roll.
Due to their recent string of victories, the Gaucho kickers find themselves tied with Fullerton at the top of the Big West standings, each owning a 5-1 Conference record.
Friday night Santa Barbara pulverized Irvine 4-0 in front of 1,157 fans at Anteater Stadium to hand Irvine its largest home loss since 1992. UCSB balanced strong pressing defense with a potent offensive attack to show the Anteaters (6-6-1 overall, 3-2-1 Big West) what it is made of. Sunday against Long Beach State, Santa Barbara continued its strong play, topping the 49ers 3-1.
“We realized how big of a weekend this would be, so we knew we just had to buckle down and do our business,” freshman midfielder Krystal Sandza said. “We had four big chances [to score against Irvine], and we were able to put them away, which is something we hadn’t been doing.”
Freshman forward Jen Borcich started the scoring onslaught for the Gauchos in the 21st minute by finishing a header off a cross from senior captain and midfielder Kathryn Fox. The Irvine defense had a difficult time containing the dynamic Borcich, who again made her presence felt only 16 minutes later by setting up sophomore forward Kelsey Bollinger to help the Gauchos take a two-goal lead.
Only one minute later, freshman defender Rachael Appleton and freshman forward Erin Griswold teamed up when Appleton knocked a long ball into the box that Griswold headed into the net. This freshman tandem would finish off the scoring for the Gauchos midway through the second half when Appleton found Griswold again off a free kick.
“This weekend was an awesome team effort,” junior midfielder Jen Codington said. “Our defense has been solid for the last ten games, and that is what’s winning us games.”
On Sunday afternoon at Long Beach, Santa Barbara picked up right where it left off at Anteater Stadium. The Gauchos gave the 49ers their first loss in three games to plummet LBSU’s overall record to 4-9-2.
Although UCSB took only one more shot than Long Beach did, three Gaucho shots found the back of the net, while the 49ers only knocked in one.
It was Borcich again who dictated the shots on the field, taking a part in each of the Gauchos’ three goals. She first struck at the 8:50 mark when she scorched a loose ball from 16 yards out past the Long Beach goalkeeper.
Santa Barbara decided to kick Long Beach while it was down, finding the back of the 49er net again only 20 seconds later. This time, Borcich handed out the assist, sending a ball into the open field. Sandza chased it down and found herself in a one-on-one with keeper Jihan Elgayzen. Sandza, who is no stranger to scoring, finished the breakaway for her sixth goal of the season.
Borcich finally finished her work on the scoreboard at the end of the first half, scoring what would ultimately be the Gauchos’ final score of the game, and her ninth goal of the season. Fox was credited with the assist.
“I’m just trying to play simple,” Borcich said. “I’m not necessarily trying to shoot it as hard as I can, but I’m trying to place it.”
“We are on a huge high right now,” Codington said. “Now we are focusing on next weekend. If we win those games, we definitely go on to playoffs.”