Nothing can scare the UCSB women’s soccer team this Halloween weekend.
As they head into the final regular season weekend of play with two out-of-state matches against Idaho and Utah State, the Gauchos have already secured a postseason berth in the Big West Tournament next weekend.
“It certainly takes a little bit of pressure off of us,” Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “But we are still a very competitive group and there are no games out there that we want to drop.”
With their overtime victory against Northridge last Sunday night off of sophomore Darci Gwartz’s golden goal, Santa Barbara moved into a tie for first place with Fullerton and extended their season for at least one more week.
The victory allows UCSB to take a minuscule midseason sigh of relief. Were the season to end before tonight’s game in Idaho, the Gauchos would take the #1 seed in the Big West Tournament.
“The higher the seed [we enter the Big West Tournament with], the better,” Stumpf said. “But we’re coming here on this road trip looking to win both games.”
Unfortunately for the Gauchos, however, they still have two games to play and can harbor no disillusions of invincibility, especially considering they will be without senior defender Cinthia Ruiz in Friday’s game.
Ruiz received a red card in the Gauchos’ victory Sunday, but the Gaucho defense has reason to be optimistic. After weathering Northridge’s attack on Sunday for nearly 33 minutes without Ruiz, UCSB is as confident as ever.
“Its going to be very difficult [playing without Cinthia] because she’s a captain and a senior and a leader on our team,” senior midfielder Molly Martin said. “No one fills Cinthia’s shoes, but we will try.”
Besides the loss of Ruiz on the defensive end, the postseason guarantee may prove to be immensely beneficial on the other end as well.
Uncharacteristic of their early season play, the Gauchos have had a difficult time putting the ball in the net of late. When Gwartz drilled home her game-winning goal, she helped the Gauchos narrowly avoid going 300 minutes without a goal.