With the regular season winding down, the UCSB men’s lacrosse team has put itself in prime position to make another run at a national championship.
The Gauchos (14-2 overall, 4-0 in the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League) scored 10 goals in the first half and defeated Chapman (10-4 overall, 3-1 WCLL) by a score of 12-4 to come away with their fourth consecutive victory. The game was the final league game for UCSB, with the WCLL quarterfinals looming.
The final outcome was never in doubt after an eight-goal outburst in the second quarter that saw several different Gauchos find the back of the net.
“The first half was probably one of our better halves this season,” senior captain Will Patton said. “After that second quarter, we were pretty much able to put it in cruise control.”
Junior Lewis Kubitz led UCSB with three goals, and seven Gauchos scored overall. Seniors Patton, Stefan Isaksen and Eric Johnson scored two goals apiece for the Gauchos, with Johnson also contributing a team-high two assists. The upperclassman led the way for UCSB, scoring every goal in the contest.
“We have a huge senior class and they’ve been leading us all year long and really pushing this program to be better,” Patton said. “We’ve left the program better than we found it, and hopefully the young guys can do the same.”
If referees can be found in time, the Gauchos will get a chance to gain some extra confidence going into the playoffs by playing a make-up game against Division III opponent Whittier on Wednesday. The game would give UCSB a chance to face one of the top teams on the West Coast.
“They’re the cream of the crop, so it would pretty much be a pride thing to go out and try to beat them,” Patton said.
The victory over Chapman assures the Gauchos at least one home game in the upcoming WCLL quarterfinals.
“It’s great that the win gave us a home playoff game since we’ll get a chance to play in front of our home fans,” Patton said. “We’re playing our best right now and we’re peaking at the right time.”
Saturday’s quarterfinal against Arizona will be the final home game for the Gaucho senior class, a group that brought home a national championship last year. The Gauchos are three victories away from a trip to Minnesota to defend their title.
“We have a really solid team,” Patton said. “I wouldn’t bet against us.”