After clinching the second place title in Region Six, the UCSB women’s soccer club team accepted an invitation to the National Soccer Championships, hosted by the University of Alabama.

In the championship game against Penn State, Santa Barbara fell 1-0, ending the team’s incredible postseason run.

The Gauchos traveled to Tuscaloosa, Alabama Nov. 15-17, completely funding their own trip. After only two years as an organization, the squad has yet to receive funds from the university. The lack of financial support and long-term team experience has not held this team back.

“Our team is really young and we’ve still been able to dominate”, senior co-captain Jessica Duggan said.

Upon arriving in Tuscaloosa, the team’s first bout was set against the University of Georgia out of the women’s ‘B’ pool, which also included Miami University and the University of Delaware. Santa Barbara captured its first win with a 3-1 victory over the Bulldogs. Goals came from junior Monique Gregoine and sophomores Vida Tafoya and Sarah Battin.

Santa Barbara then moved on to face Miami University that same day. With goals from Duggan and freshman Marina Karag, the Hurricanes were no match to stop Santa Barbara. With two wins in the bag, UCSB took off its cleats and called it a day, resting up for its next and final match of the women’s ‘B’ pool against the University of Delaware.

The next day proved successful as well for the Gauchos. UCSB tied Delaware 1-1 and it helped place Santa Barbara first in the pool, moving them up to the Championship Division. The sole goal of that game came from the hot foot of Battin, who notched her second strike of the tournament.

Santa Barbara met with Michigan State University in the quarterfinals, capturing another win with the only goal of the game going to senior co-captain Alison Conway.

The last day of the tournament, with the championship game one step away, the Gauchos were set to play the University of Arizona. After 18 penalty kicks at the end of a 1-1 game, freshman Veronica Noone, who also scored Santa Barbara’s goal during play, finally put one past Arizona’s goalkeeper, placing Santa Barbara in the final game against Penn State.

However, after an intense match, Santa Barbara was unable to defeat the Lady Lions, falling 1-0 in the championship game.

Two players from Santa Barbara were chosen for the Women’s Championship Division All-Tournament Team. Those honors went to Tafoya as well as freshman Amber Squire.

Santa Barbara’s successful season has come to an end. With a team made up of mostly underclassmen, the Gauchos are looking forward to an equally successful 2002 season.

“We are made up mostly of freshman and sophomores, so we aren’t really losing anyone next year,” Conway said.

“We played really well in Nationals, and continually got better with each game,” said freshman sweeper Ashley Rouintree, who is set to be one of next year’s captains. “Our young defense worked off each other and I feel very strong about next season.”