Despite a tournament arrangement that left the #5 UCSB women’s lacrosse team in an unfavorable position, the Gauchos were able to rebound from a first-round loss to win their last two games of the Intercollegiate Association’s National Championships last weekend in Dallas.
Friday afternoon, Santa Barbara (11-5 overall) lost to the 12th-seeded Navy 7-10, but won two games Saturday with scores of 16-9 against the #13 Army and 10-11 against #9 Maryland.
Originally, Santa Barbara would have faced off against the Army in the first round, but the tournament seeds were reworked after a team dropped out earlier in the week. Next, the Gauchos were slated to play #11 Santa Clara University, but again the tournament was redesigned to avoid teams that normally play each other in conference match-ups.
“We were pretty disappointed originally, basically because the Navy was seeded 12th but they were a way better team. They probably were in the top five, so we kinda got screwed over,” senior midfielder Emily Priess said. “We knew it was going to be tough, and we were really disappointed because we played the team that ended up making it [to the championship round], so we knew we could do well and beat them. But we had really good times and played well. … Everyone there knew that we were one of the best teams, so that was kind of a bummer.”
In the first half of the match, Santa Barbara was down 2-6, but a late-game run was not enough to secure a win. Although the Gauchos outscored the Midshipmen (8-2 overall) 5-4 in the second half, they still fell 7-10 in the first match of the tournament.
“We came out OK in the beginning, but kind of got in a rut at halftime,” Priess said. “We ended up outscoring them, but there just wasn’t enough time. It was definitely the epitome of our season in that game, and we did what we’ve always done this year.
For the Gauchos, junior midfielder Brooke Julicher recorded two goals, senior attacker Andrea Poetzsch netted one and senior attacker Candace West came off the disabled list to score one goal. Senior goalie Donna Chardon saved six goals for UCSB but let 10 slip through. Senior midfielder Stephanie Ligon also regained her health in time to play for Santa Barbara in the final tournament of the year.
“Candace was really exciting to have back,” Priess said. “In the Maryland game we had all seniors in, so it was cool. But we definitely were still playing through injuries and people were still feeling some pain.”
By the end of the weekend, senior attacker Katie Gong was honored as a first-team All-American, Julicher was named to the second-team and Priess was named to the all-tournament team.
“We just had some ups and downs, but more important than how we played were the relationships we had with each other, regardless of how we do or how strong of a team we are,” Priess said. “We know that there are 174 teams in the nation and it was an honor just to be able to go to nationals.”