For a team that has endured its share of rocky, inconsistent soccer recently, the Rocky Mountains might look a bit intimidating to the UCSB women’s soccer team.

Coming off a frustrating 2-1 loss to San Diego State, the Gauchos will look to rebound this weekend at the Cadet Soccer Stadium in Colorado Springs, CO against Colorado College and Air Force.

Santa Barbara, who sits at 5-3-1, will first take on Colorado College tonight. The Tigers said goodbye to 11 players from last year’s respectable 11-5-2 team. Colorado College has struggled to a 3-5-1 record so far on the season and if the Gauchos hope to be successful, they will have to contain Rebecca Carroll, the Tigers’ leading scorer.

On Sunday, UCSB will square off against Air Force (4-6). The Cadets are coming off a 2-0 loss to Portland State, but feature a potentially dangerous scoring attack led by last year’s Mountain West Freshman of the Year forward Jennifer Rowland.

According to UCSB head coach Paul Stumpf, this year’s squad is the fittest, strongest and most technically sound team he has enjoyed so far at UCSB, and with that comes high expectations.

The Gauchos are primed to steal the Big West in 2002 with offensive potency via two All-Big West sophomores, forward Jen Borcich and midfielder Krystal Sandza, and the leadership abilities and mental toughness of senior captains, midfielder Jen Codington and defender Katie Wilson.

“We’ve played the same system for two years and I think now we understand how to play to our strength and avoid our weaknesses,” Stumpf said last Friday.

So far they have been successful playing to their strengths, outscoring their opponents 24-11.

How the team fares in Colorado this weekend will be an indicator of how the young Gauchos can cope on the road come Big West play. Sunday’s match against Air Force will be the last non-conference tune-up for Santa Barbara, who will need all the confidence they can attain for the ever-so-crucial nine-game league season.

“We’ll be taking each game like a playoff game,” Stumpf said, concerned about the imminent Big West schedule.