With the unbeaten streak stretched to six, the UCSB women’s soccer team has one more conference game to go before heading to the Big West tournament.
The streak continued with a 1-1 tie against St. Mary’s last night. The game had the Gauchos (6-6-6 overall, 4-1-1 in the Big West) down early, when St. Mary’s (3-11-4) notched the first goal of the match in the 24th minute. A Santa Barbara clear was then blocked by Gael forward Nikki Schrey, who drove the ball to the 18. With a two-on-two situation, Schrey passed to Gael forward Kira Copinga streaking into the box, who chipped it in for the score.
UCSB Head Coach Paul Stumpf said that the Gauchos did not come out strong early, which had concerned him before the game.
“We were undisciplined and loose early,” Stumpf said. “We were a little bit lazy, and just didn’t come out strong.”
The rest of the game remained scoreless, with the Gauchos controlling possession. Senior forward Chandi Bickford played well in her final game at Harder Stadium, and her crosses set up numerous scoring chances for the Gauchos. As with their last tie, UCSB had an enormous positive shot differential, outshooting St. Mary’s 27-9.
“I liked how well we were playing tonight, we attacked well,” Bickford said. “I just don’t like the score.”
With only three minutes to go, a cross from Bickford finally resulted in a goal; the score the Gauchos needed to stay alive. After driving to the right corner, Bickford sent a ball into the box which found sophomore forward Genelle Ives. Ives, the Big West Player of the Week two weeks ago, chipped the ball over the goalkeeper to knot it.
“We have everything we need,” Ives said. “We just need to put all of it together and finish in front of the net.”
While the tie itself was frustrating, Stumpf said that he was also unhappy with the game’s officiating.
“The referee was terrible; I’m so disappointed,” Stumpf said. “We ask to not have a Santa Barbara referee, but we had one anyway. They are always so concerned with not being called biased that they always hurt us.”
A tie in a nonconference game has no effect on UCSB’s season, but the game did offer valuable experience against an unfamiliar opponent.
“Every game we play is useful,” said Ives. “We learned some things from them, and we’ve got to work on some other things.”
UCSB’s next game is their final nonconference game of the season, and the match against Cal Poly (9-5-3, 3-0-3 Big West) will determine their rank in the Big West tournament. The Gauchos have yet to play the Mustangs this year, and with the current standings it is very likely that UCSB will face Cal Poly in the first round of the tournament. The game on Saturday is a great chance to help the Gauchos in the postseason.
“Playing up there is difficult because they have great fans, but it’s going to be great to get them on film,” Stumpf said. “We want to figure out their strengths and weaknesses, and defend their strengths and attack their weaknesses.”