In two weeks, you can find the #21 UCSB Black Tide in Seattle. They won’t be vacationing there, but rather competing at Nationals after beating UC San Diego and Colorado State University this weekend here at home.
Although the opposing teams jumped out to early 2-0 leads in all of the games this weekend, the Tide was able to come back and emerge victorious in each. Saturday versus UCSD, the Air Squids struck first, scoring twice. It wouldn’t be long before UCSB would answer back, and the Gauchos would take an 8-7 lead going into halftime. From there, UCSB never relinquished control and earned a final victory of 15-11.
The Tide then took on #3 Colorado, the team that ended the Tide’s season last year. Again. the Gauchos tripped early, falling down 2-0 early. The half went back and forth as both teams consistently answered the others’ points, and the Tide would again take the half 8-7. Colorado dominated UCSB in the deep game, and although he had a bad ankle sprain, Alex Roedel taped it up and played the rest of the game, helping UCSB out immensely.
Emotions ran high after some shoving on both sides of the field, but the Tide came out as the ultimate winners. Even though the Tide took the lead 9-7 in the second half and never lost it, Colorado was nipped at the Gauchos heels all day long, but would still fall 15-11.
“It was a pretty big win, everyone is really excited,” 4th year Co-captain Jonathan Hester said. “Tim Henshaw Plath came down with a really good grab that fired up the team and got us going. Asa Wilson and Tim had good games as did Mike Brown and Alex Roedel on defense.”
The Tide had practiced in wind all year and not only did this serve as a resistance trainer for them, with this weekend’s slight breeze, it gave the Tide an advantage.
“The wind was the best thing for us,” Hester said. “We have a huge close-knit fan base that cheered us all weekend.”
Should they have lost then they would have played for another shot at Nationals in the back door game like last year, but instead it was Colorado playing in that game.
“It’s a good thing we didn’t have to play (in the backdoor game) because we used all our resources in the Colorado game,” Hester said. “We put a lot into it.”
Nationals take place May 28-30 in Seattle and the Tide doesn’t look to change a whole lot. Their main challenge will be to maintain their excellence.
“We probably won’t change much but instead stay to the same formula,” Hester said.
There could be a sequel to the UCSB-Colorado regionals at Nationals, something that wold come as no surprise to the Gauchos.
“We don’t plan on losing at Nationals and they are one of the better teams in the nation, so if both of these assumptions hold true then we’ll see them again,” Hester said.