The UCSB women’s soccer team hopes to win its sixth game in seven tries tonight at Harder Stadium.
The Gauchos open the Big West season against Pacific at 7, hoping to carry over the momentum of an 8-1 triumph at Air Force in which sophomore midfielder Krystal Sandza scored a UCSB record five goals.
“We’re going to put 10 players on Sandza,” UOP Head Coach Keith Coleman said. “We hope our defense is up to the challenge.”
Santa Barbara hopes to build on last season in which the squad fell one game short of a conference crown. Last year marked the first time since 1993 that UCSB finished over .500.
“This team is a little better than last year,” UCSB Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “We’re a little more rangy and athletic.”
The offensive fervor is showing up in the games as well. Santa Barbara has already matched last year’s season total of 34 goals, accomplishing the feat in eight fewer games. Sandza’s 16 goals ranks No. 8 all time at UCSB.
The defense has kept its opponents to only 12 goals in 11 games. Freshman goalkeeper Jamie Considine now has a 7-2-0 record and a 0.81 goals against average since taking over early in the season. But the story so far this year has been the offense.
“We’ve now been playing a system the last two years,” Stumpf said. “They have confidence in the system.”
That confidence will surely be tested this weekend. UOP is looking to rebound from a tough loss last week to No. 25 Cal State Fullerton, last year’s Big West Champions.
Sophomore forward Regina McGee leads Pacific with 11 goals, four as game-winners. Freshman forward Suzy Peterson and junior forward Gabby Olivares have helped the Tigers, tallying five and six goals.
The Gauchos then host Cal State Northridge Sunday at 7 p.m. The Matadors stumbled to a rough start this year with a 0-2-0 Big West record and a 1-10-0 mark overall.
The Matadors have not provided much offense this year, having been outscored 27-10. Since taking their season opener against Nevada in a 1-0 overtime win, the Matadors have lost 10 straight. They have yet to score more than two goals in any game this year.
But things have been looking up for the Matadors lately. They had a spirited comeback against Fullerton in which they lost 3-2, when a rebound from a penalty kick went in.
The Gauchos go into the weekend games without captain and senior defender Katie Wilson. Wilson didn’t practice and is probably out this weekend after suffering an injury to her knee ligaments.