With juniors midfielder Krystal Sandza and forward Jen Borcich returning to the mix, Head Coach Paul Stumpf knew that scoring would rarely be a problem this year. But his defense loomed as a gigantic question mark after a mediocre 2002 campaign.

“We scored bucket loads of goals last year, but allowed too many at key times. So, we spent the spring season working on a more zonal defending system, and have asked everyone to defend smarter,” Stumpf said. “So far, our goals against average is .75, and that is pretty good, considering our goals for average is 2.5. That is why we have had a great start to the season.”

This year, the Gaucho defense has Stumpf breathing easier, thanks in large part to sophomore goalkeeper Jamie Considine.

“Jamie is just amazing – she just needed to find her confidence last year, and once she did she was unstoppable,” Borcich said.

Considine has allowed just six goals so far this year in eight games. In arguably her top performance of the year, she held the second ranked Bruins scoreless, recording a season-high seven saves.

“We’re just solid up and down the field now,” Considine said. “Our new defense allows us to move players around the field easier and we don’t have to concentrate on just one player, but the key for our defensive improvement has been our preparation and communication.”

Credit for the Gauchos stingy defense is also due to sophomore Katie Cooper, a Big West Honorable Mention selection last year and the anchor of the Gauchos defense.

With Cooper and Considine at the top of their games, winning should be less of an adventure this year, and tonight will be the first Big West test. Cal State Fullerton will visit Harder Stadium tonight to try to slip something past the last line of the Gaucho defense. The SDSU Toreros come to town Sunday for a key non-conference match.

Fullerton and Cal Poly, should be the Gauchos’ toughest competition in conference in the 2003 campaign, making tonight’s game crucial. Last year, both teams beat UCSB in the final week of the season leaving the Gauchos stunned and putting a wet blanket on their postseason hopes. Fullerton erased a 3-0 deficit and won 4-3 in overtime. Needless to say, the Gauchos will be seeking a measure of revenge against Fullerton.