With the Big West Conference season waning, the UCSB women’s soccer team needed a pair of wins this weekend that it could not get. The Gauchos (8-10 overall, 2-4 in the Big West) split a pair of games, losing to Pacific 3-2 and beating Northridge 2-1 on the road.
Pacific (10-7-1, 3-4 Big West) and a reportedly biased officiating squad teamed up to snuff out UCSB’s playoff hopes on Friday night in Stockton, Calif.
Three penalty kicks were awarded to the Tigers over the course of the game. The Gauchos, converted two free kicks into goals and junior midfielder and co-captain Darci Gwartz was ejected with a red card in the 77th minute after a post-play collision in Santa Barbara’s box.
“That was probably one of the worst officiated games I’ve seen in a long time,” Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “One or two of the penalty kicks weren’t deserved [and] Darci got a red card after Jamie [Considine] had already made the play.”
In a match that held in its balance the playoff hopes of both teams, all five goals would come in the second half of heated play. Freshman forward Genelle Ives put UCSB on the board first with a header finish off of sophomore defender Katrina Wright’s free kick.
Even after the red card ejection and 3-1 deficit on the Tiger’s home turf, Santa Barbara continued to scrape its way back into the match. Ives scored her second goal of the night as she finished off Wright’s rebound. Santa Barbara then produced a potential game-tying opportunity with less than five seconds remaining on the clock.
“[Our player] nodded [a high cross] over the bar with three seconds left that would have tied it up from three yards out,” Stumpf said. “We had a free kick awarded with 20 seconds left and [after the missed header] we didn’t have time to even put the ball back in play.”
Although the Gauchos have the ability to pull into a three-team tie for the final conference tournament spot with a win next weekend against Cal Poly, their loss to Pacific takes them out of contention because they would fall behind in their head-to-head record.
Despite being out of playoff contention, the Gauchos bounced back from a frustrating Friday night to take down Northridge, a team who is still right in the middle of the playoff hunt 2-1 on the road.
“They had everything to play for and we had nothing,” Stumpf said. “Any sort of result for them (win or tie) would have secured them the final spot in the playoffs.”
Perhaps the most impressive performance of the match was that of freshman forward Sami Svrcek who finished off two hustle-induced scoring opportunities to give UCSB the win.
“She used a lot of determination to score those goals,” Stumpf said. “She came into the season injured and had to be patient. She [had her first start on Friday night] and did well, so we thought she deserved another chance.”
UCSB will host their final outing of the 2005 season this Friday at 7 p.m. against its Central Coast rival Cal Poly.