On a mud-soaked field at Mustang Stadium, the UCSB women’s soccer team lost its season finale 2-0 to Cal Poly on Friday and put its postseason aspirations on hold until 2003.
For the second year in a row, the Gauchos (13-5-2, 6-2-1 in the Big West) fell short in a game that determined the conference champion.
“It’s disappointing because I really thought this was our year,” sophomore forward Jen Borcich said. “Things fell Cal Poly’s way, and they earned it.”
Santa Barbara still held onto the slim possibility of being one of six Division I squads to earn an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament but found out Monday that it had not been selected.
The Gauchos finished their season with two more overall wins than in 2001, but with one less conference win.
Friday’s match went scoreless until the game’s 43rd minute, when Cal Poly’s Megan Schlegel capitalized on a penalty kick by beating UCSB freshman goalkeeper Jamie Considine.
The Mustangs put the finishing touches on their third championship in four years with a goal in the 73rd minute. Alexa Jontulovich knocked in a loose ball on an assist from Schlegel for the goal.
Santa Barbara was unable to throw its high powered offense into gear partially due to the drenched field and muddy conditions.
“The ball would roll and then just stop in the middle of the field,” sophomore midfielder Krystal Sandza said. “None of us got to hold the ball at all. It was kind of frustrating.”
Sandza, who completely dominated the Big West this season with a conference record 25 goals, downplayed her personal conquests in search of a greater achievement.
“It all would have meant a lot more if we had won the championship,” she said.
In 2002, the sophomore not only set a new Big West record for goals, but she also climbed to fourth place on the UCSB career goals list and became the first Gaucho since 1987 to rack up 50 points. Sandza led her team in goals and was tied for second most assists with eight.
Borcich, the reigning Big West Offensive Player of the Year, may have been partially overshadowed by Sandza this year. Borcich, however, did not suffer a sophomore slump.
“I was fearful that I wouldn’t be able to match last season,” Borcich said. “I just really worked on my technical skills to improve a different aspect of my game.”
Borcich tallied six more goals and 12 more points than her rookie season and, most importantly, added four game-winning golden goals in 2002.
The sophomore forward credited part of Friday’s loss to nasty weather but would not shift all the blame.
“I definitely think that the field had a role,” Borcich said. “But the other team had to play in the same conditions.”