Despite the UCSB women’s lacrosse team losing its crucial first-round game this weekend to UCLA in the Western Women’s Lacrosse League (WWLL) Championships, all is not lost for Santa Barbara. Finishing fifth place after winning its next two games, the Gauchos will still head to nationals.
“Luckily, our loss only bumped us down to a number six ranking, and the WWLL received two wildcard slots, so UCSB and Santa Clara get to go to nationals,” West said. “The loss was a big upset, we were so worried that we lost a season’s worth of hard work in that single game.”
Santa Barbara’s first playoff game was a close match with #7 seeded UCLA. Santa Barbara and the Bruins had battled back and forth throughout this season, but this time the Bruins got the better of the Gauchos with a score of 10-7.
“Our heads just weren’t in the game,” sophomore second-home Candice West said. “We weren’t as intense or focused as we were the last time we played them.”
After a displeasing first-round loss, the Gauchos took it out on UC Davis in a 15-5 victory.
“The UCLA game was very upsetting,” Head Coach Diana Garcia said. “We came back though.”
The women had anticipated playing #8 Santa Clara University, which would still have kept them in contention for the championships. They did not let this affect their third game the following day against UC San Diego.
“We dominated the entire game,” West said. “Overall, it was a much better, more confidently played game.”
The 21-6 triumph over the Tritons was not a complete shock to the Gauchos and was one of two playoff matches that played crucial roles in their at-large bid to nationals.
“We dominated those games; we had to,” Garcia said. “We needed those games to secure our spot in nationals.”
Later this week, the women will travel to St. Louis, Mo., to participate in a three-day national tournament. It will be UCSB’s final destination of the season, and they will be entering the national competition for intercollegiate club teams, ranked sixth of 12.
“I expect us to do very well,” Garcia said. “Throughout the season, we’ve beaten both the #2 ranked [Cal Poly] and #5 ranked [Texas A&M] teams, which gives us confidence going in.”
Throughout the year, Santa Barbara has played each game as a step toward the National Championship Tournament, and all of their hard work will come together this weekend.
With the assistance of alumni, friends and community donations, the Gauchos have been working to raise $10,000 to finance their trip. Though they are almost at their goal, they still need a final boost.
The women will host their final fundraiser at Chevy’s Fresh Mex Restaurant on May 6 from 5-9:30 p.m. Chevy’s will donate 15 percent of the proceeds to the UCSB women’s lacrosse team.
“We are extremely grateful for all the support we have received,” West said.