With four games already under its belt in the Big West, it’s gut-check time for the UCSB women’s soccer team.
In their final three games of league play, the Gauchos (7-9 overall, 1-3 in the Big West) are faced with the fourth, fifth and sixth place teams in the conference while they find themselves near the bottom of the heap in seventh place.
The Gauchos head up north to Pacific (9-6-1 overall, 2-3 Big West) tonight for a 7 p.m. showdown that holds their season in the balance before traveling to Northridge in their second of two must-win games this weekend.
To make the postseason tournament, Santa Barbara must pull out a miraculous late season comeback and finish the season in fourth place or better.
“I think confidence is down, but if we come in and take care of business, then we should be fine,” junior forward and co-captain Allie Kueny said. “We need to win these next three games, and I’m really pumped.”
For those just tuning in to the 2005 season, here’s the breakdown. After taking the first game of the season against last place Irvine, the Gauchos have slumped into a three-game losing streak against the top three teams in the Big West.
Cal Poly, who finds itself just one point ahead of the Gauchos, was, at one point this season, ranked 19th in the nation by the NSCAA before they spent the first four conference games scrapping for just one win.
Santa Barbara and the Mustangs now find themselves looking up at the rest of the conference, just one year after taking home the Big West regular season title and the Big West Tournament championship, respectively.
“Cal Poly is kind of in the same boat as us – we can still make the playoffs,” Kueny said. “[They too] need to win the next three games [against Northridge, Pacific and us].”
For UCSB, goals have been a scarce commodity in recent games. Besides the three-goal blowout over Irvine, the Gauchos have only been able to muster one goal during their three-game slide.
Leading the Gauchos in points is freshman forward Genelle Ives, who has collected four goals and five assists on the year.
“I feel like we’ve created a lot of opportunities, but we need that final drive to put the ball in the back of the net,” Kueny said. “[In practice we worked on] finishing; by no means has [Coach] Paul [Stumpf] been letting us slack off.”
Rounding out the top of the offensive categories for Santa Barbara are Kueny, with three goals and six assists, and junior midfielder Darci Gwartz and freshman forward Katie Smith, who both have two goals and two assists apiece. Even with the production from Ives, Kueny, Gwartz and Smith, the Gauchos have only scored four goals in their four conference matches.
However, things are looking better for UCSB on the defensive side of the pitch. Senior goalkeeper Jamie Considine pulled 11 saves out of her bag in their last outing against Fullerton.