The UCSB men’s lacrosse team is one step closer to a return trip to the national championships.
The Gauchos (15-2 overall, 4-0 in the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League) dominated Arizona (8-5 overall, 2-1 WCLL) early and often on their way to an 11-5 victory in the WCLL quarterfinals. Santa Barbara scored six straight goals to start the game and cruised to an easy victory.
“We set ourselves up to be successful by getting that early lead,” senior captain Will Patton said. “It was really hard for Arizona to try to overcome a seven-goal deficit.” UCSB led 4-0 at the end of the first quarter and 7-1 at halftime. The Wildcats scored three consecutive goals late in the third quarter, but the comeback attempt proved to be short-lived as the Gauchos came out firing in the fourth quarter.
A minute into the fourth quarter, senior Eric Johnson scored his first goal of the game to end the Arizona run. Patton won the ensuing face-off and ran untouched toward the Arizona goal before firing a shot past the Wildcat goalie. The two goals came less then five seconds apart and extended the Gaucho lead to six goals.
In front of a raucous crowd at the Pit, the Gauchos extended their home winning streak to 31 games. UCSB has not lost a home game since March 26, 2002.
“We have really good fan support so it’s great to play at home,” Patton said. “I think we put on a good show and the fans appreciate that.”
Playing in his final home game as a Gaucho, Patton led the team with four assists and five total points. Junior Nick Stratton finished with three goals and one assist, and Arizona native junior Lewis Kubitz added three goals of his own. Also playing in his final home game, senior captain Stefan Isaksen contributed two goals and an assist.
“It hasn’t really hit us yet that this was our final home game, but it’s good to come away with the win,” Patton said.
The Gauchos will continue their trek toward a second consecutive national championship on Saturday when they travel to Orinda, Calif., to take on Chico State in the WCLL semifinals. Chico State earned a spot in the game by defeating Cal Poly 6-1. UCSD and Sonoma State will face off in the other semifinal, with the winners playing in the WCLL final on Sunday.