There comes a time in every season when a team reaches the point of no return.

This weekend’s final home stand will be just that for the UCSB women’s soccer team. The Gauchos (10-3-1, 3-0-1 in the Big West Conference) are set to take on UC Irvine and Long Beach State – two teams currently sandwiching UCSB’s fourth place standing in the Big West Conference.

“The two teams are very similar in that they’re both very physical and very emotional,” UCSB Head Coach Paul Stumpf said.

For this reason, Stumpf has been preparing his team very carefully during the week for Friday’s and Sunday’s pivotal matchups.

“We’ve got to keep really good spacing between our players so they can’t get physical and tackle us,” Stumpf said.

Junior midfielder Hayley McNallan and junior forward Caroline Kabe lead the Anteaters (6-7-1, 3-1-1). McNallan heads UCI with five goals, while Kabe paces the team lead in assists with three. For the second weekend in a row, the Gauchos will face a team that has fewer combined goals, 17, than UCSB sophomore midfielder Krystal Sandza, who has 21.

Friday’s contest against Irvine looks to be a mismatch on paper but not through the eyes of UCI Head Coach Marine Cano.

“[Our] team can play with anyone. We’re actually playing real well right now, so it should be a good game,” Cano said. “We have played six teams in the top-25 this year so we could prepare for these types of matches.”

The confidence might not be so abrupt when Long Beach State rolls in to Harder Stadium on Sunday night for what could be a battle for third or, possibly, second place.

The 49ers (5-7-4, 3-0-2) are currently riding a three-game undefeated streak and boast the reigning Big West Player of the Week, junior forward Abie Curry. But Long Beach State Head Coach Peter Reynaud remains reserved about his team’s success.

“Santa Barbara is also undefeated in conference and clearly the better team,” Reynaud said. “We hope we can hang with them.”

Despite the concessions from Reynaud, Stumpf will not underestimate the 49ers.

“I have a feeling there’s a quiet confidence about them,” Stumpf said.

Should the Gauchos claim victory on Friday, they could hold sole position of third place if Cal Poly can knock off Long Beach State. A Gaucho sweep this weekend could set the stage for a wild final two weeks. UCSB would take on first place Cal State Fullerton and second place Cal Poly in the season’s final two games.

Both of this weekend’s games will be played at 7 p.m. at Harder Stadium.