Let’s get physical.
That’s the motto for the UCSB women’s soccer team during today’s Big West matchup. The Gauchos will go head to head with Long Beach State at George Allen Field in Long Beach at 4:00 p.m.
“We have to step [the defense] up and be stronger, not dirty, just more aggressive,” UCSB junior forward Randi Johns said.
UCSB plans to play a little more physical and mix up its game, making it harder for LBSU to create any scoring opportunities. The Gauchos will attempt more passes to escape a tenacious 49ers defense.
“We’ve been working with the wide strikers, playing quicker and adding more combination plays,” UCSB Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “[In practice] we focused on playing hard, having fun, and developing little areas here and there.”
LBSU, often penalized for many yellow cards, is an extremely physical team and loves to go in hard for fifty-fifty balls and constantly put pressure on the ball.
“LBSU is really tough,” junior midfielder Krystal Sandza said. “We must be really physical to compete and we are prepared.”
In the ten games this season, Sandza has scored six goals and had three assists. Junior forward Jennifer Borcich and Johns have also contributed to the offensive success. Borcich has scored six goals with five assists and Johns has four goals and three assists.
This past week, the Gauchos have spent their time identifying weaknesses and working on new techniques. Offensively, Santa Barbara plans to release the ball sooner to avoid tackles. The Gauchos know that if they stay mentally strong and rested for the game, there should be little doubt about the outcome.
“We’re really excited and we’re going to kill. We always kill,” Sandza said.
This is the second Big West conference game for the Gauchos and they hope to keep up their winning streak. UCSB won its last six games, standing 6-2-2 overall and 1-0-0 in the Big West. Santa Barbara’s goal this year is to reach the NCAA tournament, which first requires the team to compete in the Big West Tournament.
Last Sunday though, Long Beach posted its third shutout of the season over Weber State and the 49ers will certainly be ready for UCSB in their first conference game. LBSU is 4-5-0 overall, winning four of its last five contests.
“We focus on playing as well as we can, and when we play as well as we can, the results just come,” Stumpf said.