The UCs will battle the state schools this weekend in the latest argument of the California public university superiority debate. It will be settled via two very important lacrosse games.
The defending Western Collegiate Lacrosse League champion Gauchos (15-2 overall, 4-0 in the WCLL) will travel to Orinda, Calif., to take on Chico State (10-5 overall, 2-1 WCLL) in the first of Saturday’s two semifinal games. Sonoma State (16-1 overall, 3-0 WCLL) and UC San Diego (12-2 overall, 2-1 WCLL) will match up in the second semifinal with the winner advancing to Sunday’s WCLL Championship game.
UCSB is coming off an 11-5 victory over Arizona in last weekend’s quarterfinal match, extending Santa Barbara’s win streak to five.
“Our team’s really pulled it together. We had a little lull earlier in the season but we’ve got it all together now and we’re ready to win,” junior Lewis Kubitz said.
The game against Chico State will feature some of the top scorers in the WCLL Division A. Chico’s Dan Yob is ranked seventh in scoring, but UCSB will counter Yob with the senior tandem of Will Patton and Stefan Isaksen, who are ninth and twelfth in total points, respectively.
While the Gauchos are confident going into the semifinals, they may have to guard against looking too far ahead.
“We need to focus on playing our game, because we can beat anybody if we do,” Kubitz said. “The only thing we have to be worried about is being a little overconfident and looking ahead to the finals too much.”
The WCLL champion earns a trip to Blaine, Minn., with an automatic berth to contend for the National Championship title. Santa Barbara defeated Colorado State 8-7 in the WCLL title game last season.
“Winning one is great but it’s really hard to defend,” Kubitz said. “We all have our eye on the prize and this weekend is a big stepping stone toward getting back to where we want to be.”
The Final Four may also give the Gauchos a chance to avenge a midseason loss to rival Colorado State. In early March, the Rams won a hard-fought game 8-6 to knock UCSB out of the top spot in the national rankings.
“We all really want another shot at CSU and we really want that shot at another title,” Kubitz said.