It may be time to start calling the UCSB men’s lacrosse team a dynasty.
Playing in the title game for the third consecutive year, the #2 Gauchos (21-2 overall, 4-0 in the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League) came from behind to defeat #4 Sonoma State 8-7, and win their second straight national championship.
“We’ve turned this program around and we definitely consider ourselves a dynasty,” junior Nick Stratton said. “We’ve repeated as champions and we plan on keeping this tradition going.”
Saturday’s championship game featured the second comeback for the Gauchos. Sonoma State took an early two-goal lead and led 6-3 at halftime, but the Gauchos scored three consecutive third-quarter goals to tie the game at seven going into the final quarter.
With nine minutes remaining in the game, Stratton scored an unassisted goal to give the Gauchos their first lead of the game. The defense took over from there, as the Gauchos held on for their eleventh consecutive victory. UCSB gave up only 16 goals in four games, shattering the previous tournament record of 23 goals allowed.
“The defense deserves a ton of credit,” senior co-captain Will Patton said. “They’re the reason we’ve won all these games.”
Santa Barbara earned a spot in the finals by prevailing in Friday’s semifinal game against #3 University of Michigan. The Gauchos trailed 3-2 after three quarters, but came up with what would be the first of two consecutive late-game comebacks. Freshman Luke Shaw scored early in the fourth quarter to tie the game at three, and senior co-captain Stefan Isaksen capped things off by scoring his second goal of the game to give UCSB the lead and the eventual win.
“We knew we had to leave it all out on the field and that’s what we did,” Stratton said. “It was incredible.”
Following Saturday’s victory, the Gauchos picked up a number of individual awards. Stratton was named tournament MVP, while senior Dave Gorham was recognized as the tournament’s defensive MVP. Stratton, Isaken and Gorham made the All-Tournament team. Patton, the team’s leading scorer, was named First Team All-American.
The final score of 8-7 has proven to be a lucky one for the Gauchos, who beat Sonoma State by the same score two weeks ago in the WCLL championship game. UCSB also won 8-7 in last year’s national championship game, when it defeated Colorado State .
“With our senior class, it’s almost like we’ve been destined to win these games,” Patton said. “Two national championships and three WCLL championships in four years isn’t bad. It’s been a great ride.”