It is now official. The UCSB women’s soccer team is battle-tested.
The team survived an arduous preseason schedule, with the Gauchos tying University of San Diego 1-1 on Sunday at Harder Stadium and defeating Fullerton 3-0 at Cal State Fullerton Stadium on Friday. By knocking off Fullerton, Santa Barbara avenged two devastating losses to the Titans in 2002.
In last year’s two losses to Fullerton, Santa Barbara allowed nine goals. Friday, with a revamped defense and sophomore goalkeeper Jamie Considine at the top of her game, Fullerton struggled to get any offense going at all, only tallying seven shots.
“That was a great opportunity to get out of the gates,” Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “We were very pleased with our performance.”
On Friday, junior transfer forward Randi Johns struck again for the Gauchos. In the seventh minute, Johns sent a screamer just under the crossbar and past Titan goalkeeper Laura Janke for her fourth goal of the season.
The Gauchos increased their lead to 2-0 in the 55th minute when senior Emily Schwimmer took a pass from junior midfielder Krystal Sandza from roughly 35 yards out and blazed it past Janke.
Johns also recorded an assist in the 89th minute on a corner kick that found the head of junior forward Jen Borcich to seal it for the Gauchos.
“It was awesome,” Borcich said, with an omnipresent grin. “We hadn’t beat them for a while, so that felt great.”
On Sunday, the Gauchos had a golden opportunity to take a win from San Diego, a perennial WCC power. The Gauchos held onto a 1-0 lead for the majority of the game until San Diego forward Michelle Rowe found the back of the net wide open from eight feet out.
“We can’t give away chances like that from eight feet away and expect to win,” Stumpf said.
UCSB could not bounce back from the blunder, despite inspired play from the back line to the front. Considine again was brilliant, making diving saves routinely. Perhaps the only reason why Considine let anything past her was an injury she suffered to her shoulder just moments before the goal.
“I was a little set back from that, and yeah it could have affected me,” Considine admitted after the game.
Nonetheless, the Gauchos were pleased with the way they played, which was tireless, relentless, and aggressive soccer. UCSB seemed to have a handle on the majority of the 50/50 balls and never played passively.
The Gauchos’ only score came in the 25th minute. Borcich, off a throw-in, took the ball down the left sideline, juked right, and perfectly pinned one ground level just left of San Diego’s goalkeeper.
“It was definitely an intense game; we wanted this one bad,” Borcich said.
UCSB now sits at 6-2-2 and is undefeated in its last six games. The Gauchos will hit the road this week and head to Long Beach State on Friday and UC Irvine on Sunday.