The UCSB men’s lacrosse team is hot right now, and it will take more than a road trip to #11 Cal Poly or a visit by San Diego State to cool them off.
The top-ranked Gaucho (3-0) team defeated the Mustangs (1-1) in San Luis Obispo on Thursday 9-2, then returned home to trounce the Aztecs (1-1) in the Pit on Saturday 17-0.
Credit Thursday’s road win to the defense. Senior goaltender Ryan Brittain saved seven of nine shots against him, and the Gaucho defense held Cal Poly to only two goals.
“We have a lot of faith in our goalie,” senior defender Mike Towers said. “But we also played good team defense as a whole.”
Santa Barbara struggled to get into an offensive rhythm on Thursday. Sloppy play and some questionable calls led to the 14 penalties called against the Gauchos.
“The penalties really took away from our efforts and stopped us from scoring as many goals as we could have,” Towers said. “We felt like there were a lot of questionable calls and we let it get to us more than we should have.”
The offense was spearheaded by senior attacker Luke Wilson, who notched two goals and two assists in the game. The Gauchos jumped ahead with an early lead of 4-1 at the end of the first quarter and never looked back.
“[Wilson] is very experienced and a talented player,” Head Coach Mike Allan said. “But we would like to spread the offense out a little more and get more people involved.”
When the Gauchos returned home on Saturday to host San Diego State in the Pit, scoring goals was not a problem; they scored 17 total and managed to shut out the Aztecs, who are playing their first year in Division A after leaving Division B.
“You never want to underestimate anyone,” Allan said. “But we wanted to go out and make an opening statement against them and felt confident that we could do that.”
So confident in fact that senior goaltender Mike Wood got the start instead of Brittain, who played attack instead and even scored a goal in the fourth quarter. By the end of the game, every member of the 45-man team had logged some minutes on the field.
“We have such a deep roster, especially at goalie,” Allan said. “Wood has been playing behind Brittain for three years now, and we wanted to reward him with the start for his performance and effort, especially after Thursday’s win.”
Santa Barbara was led on Saturday by Wilson, who had three goals and three assists and only played the first quarter. Although the results of Saturday’s game may suggest otherwise, the Gauchos are still looking to gel as an offensive unit.
“Right now we have a lot of good individual players who play well,” Allan said. “We are still looking for an offensive flow as a whole.”
If the Gauchos find room for improvement, look for Santa Barbara to extend its 12-game winning streak all the way to another national title.