If defense wins championships, then the UCSB women’s soccer team better start making room in its trophy case.
The Gauchos (7-4-1 overall, 2-0 Big West) started their Big West Conference season with two victories this weekend. On Friday, UCSB scored four second-half goals in a 4-1 win over Long Beach State. The Gauchos extended their undefeated streak to four games on Sunday after toppling Irvine 2-0.
UCSB and Big West-leading scorer senior forward Jennifer Borcich scored twice this weekend, while sophomore midfielder Darci Gwartz dished out four assists to lead the Gauchos to a hot Big West start.
On Sunday, the Gauchos were on the defensive, holding Irvine scoreless to earn their fourth shutout of the season and the 21st of junior goalkeeper Jamie Considine’s UCSB career. The shutout moves Considine to second on the UCSB career shutouts list. The Gaucho defense has allowed just two goals in the last six games, with none of the goals in the first half.
“After the first few games when we were giving up some soft goals, we looked at game films and we started straight with the back. The goalkeepers worked on some specific things, and they’ve done well,” UCSB Head Coach Paul Stumpf said of his defense. “Instead of marking a man, we’re getting in passing lanes, so we’re a lot more disruptive, so we give up fewer chances.”
Despite a roster dominated by 10 freshmen, the Gauchos performed like veterans, getting solid play from a number of their youngsters.
“They’re all getting tons of minutes, and they all look like seasoned professionals at this point,” Stumpf said. “So we’re real pleased with their development, and also I think they’ve got a good group of older players surrounding them.”
One member of the Gauchos’ supporting cast this weekend was Gwartz. The sophomore assisted on three of four UCSB goals Friday night. The Gauchos were in no rush to score in the first half, scoring their first two goals seven minutes apart in the second half. Senior forward Randi Johns, junior midfielder Kristyn Bright and Borcich all benefited from Gwartz’s passing abilities Friday night.
“You know, I’m just looking for my teammates. They’re getting in really good positions, and I’m happy to feed them the ball and let them do their thing,” Gwartz said. “The center mid[fielder] role is kind of like that, to dish balls off. So I let my forwards do their work.”
With the weekend sweep, UCSB finished its four-game homestand on a roll. The Gauchos continue their Big West season next weekend at Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside.
“[It’s] huge to get two wins – two quality wins over good teams,” Gwartz said. “We’re just looking to go undefeated throughout league. Hopefully we can keep that up.”