Last weekend, the #2 UCSB women’s lacrosse team made an appearance at the Western Women’s Lacrosse League (WWLL) championships at Occidental College, winning two games early on Saturday but dropping the final championship round to #1 Cal Poly.
The Gauchos (9-4 overall, 6-1 in the WWLL) defeated Pomona-Pitzer 12-5 and UCLA 14-7 on Saturday afternoon, but fell to Cal Poly (17-0 overall, 7-0 WWLL) 13-6 on Sunday. Santa Barbara tried to seek revenge on the Mustangs, who beat the Gauchos 9-6 at Harder Stadium last week.
“There’s always expectations when you’re playing a rival who is the biggest competition in our league,” senior attacker Candace West said. “We played well against [Cal Poly] when they came to play us at home, and we played well all weekend expecting to do well. But we were not making connections as a team as much as displaying individual talent.”
Although UCSB struggled to find a rhythm all season thanks to player injuries, it still managed to pull forward through adversity and finish second place in the WWLL.
During the last game of regular season play, Santa Barbara beat Cal Poly Pomona 11-4 and managed to repeat that victory again this weekend.
“Our first two games were really good. We just played Pomona last weekend, but we were frustrated because we could have done a lot better against them the first time,” senior midfielder Emily Preiss said. “So it was more like revenge and redemption; we basically dominated that game. UCLA really was a tough game because they’re pretty big rivals, but we put up a really good game as a team and played very cohesively.”
The most important matchup came on Sunday, when UCSB faced rival Cal Poly in the championship round. Preiss posted the first goal for the Gauchos, but the Mustangs went on a quick run to bring the score up 8-2 in favor of Cal Poly.
“We just couldn’t put the goals in the back of the net and had trouble with passing, strong transitions and we didn’t capitalize,” senior attacker Katie Gong said. “We did fine transitioning the ball and making cuts, we just got unlucky with some of our shots.”
Gong did well in the match, scoring two goals; overall the Gauchos spread out the points across the roster. Senior attacker Andrea Poetzsch recorded one goal, in addition to Preiss’ goal. Sophomore and junior attackers Kristen Dickey and Kelly Regan rounded out the scoring for UCSB.
“We definitely were dominated, but tried to come back at the second half,” Preiss said. “We had to play catch up but it’s not enough time. We could have beaten them, but we’ve had so many injuries so we did a lot better than I expected. To get second place is still pretty good.”
During this weekend, Gong was honored in an awards ceremony when she was named WWLL Player of the Year. In addition, one Gaucho was named First Team All-Stars and two attained spots in the Second Team All-Stars.
With this weekend’s play, Santa Barbara secured its first ever bid to nationals during the weekend of May 9-13 in Dallas, Texas.