The UCSB women’s soccer team has been having its cake and eating it too lately.
Santa Barbara (9-6-1 overall, 5-1 Big West), tied for first place in the Big West with Fullerton, heads into an important weekend of play tonight.
A lot is at stake for the Gauchos this weekend. If UCSB, which is on a four-game winning streak, sweeps both Riverside and Fullerton this weekend, it will secure a first-place finish in the Big West, as well as a playoff berth. This is something that no Gaucho takes lightly.
“This weekend is huge for us,” senior midfielder Emily Hutchinson said. “It is definitely the biggest weekend for our team since I’ve been here and the biggest weekend the program has had in a long time.”
Last week Santa Barbara showed its mental toughness with a complete thrashing of both teams it faced. The Gauchos have hit full throttle down their home stretch, showing that they can keep their composure in the cooker.
“[Last weekend’s performances] proves to the team that they can win under adverse conditions of playing on the road and the pressure from being near the top of the table in league rather than in the middle,” UCSB Head Coach Paul Stumpf said.
Santa Barbara has done an outstanding job of capitalizing on its scoring opportunities, as it has outscored its opponents in the last four games 10-1. However there is more than just goal scoring involved in the making of a successful team. Central midfielder s and captains senior Kathryn Fox and junior Jen Codington have impacted the flow of the game in ways that do not make it to the stat books. Their pivotal roles involve covering the whole field in order to run the team, both offensively and defensively.
“Those two [Fox and Codington] affected the game the most last weekend,” Stumpf said. “They really led the team with their quality of play and their work rate.”
The Gauchos play tonight at 6 in Harder Stadium against Riverside in a game that will start off with a ceremony to honor the team’s seniors.
Sunday’s match will feature the showdown between UCSB and Fullerton at 1 p.m. Both teams are fighting for the top spot in the conference and the chance to go on to postseason play.
“We are really fired up for this weekend,” Codington said. “Our goal since the beginning of the season has been to win league and it’s really exciting to be in the position to make it happen.”