The #12 UCSB Men’s Lacrosse team clinched home field advantage through playoffs with an 18-1 routing of UCLA on Saturday.
With the win, the Gauchos (11-3 overall, 4-0 in the Los Angeles division) locked up first place in the L.A. division of the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League. With the loss, the Bruins (6-8, 0-4 L.A. division) stay in last place in their division.
“18-1 looks pretty convincing, which should help us out in the national rankings and help us for the national championship,” sophomore defender Chris Schaible said. “It should be pretty nice to play at home in the playoffs. We are playing one of the Arizona teams and they are pretty good, so it’s nice to be at home.”
Santa Barbara opened the game up well and dominated the contest from buzzer to buzzer. The Gauchos scored four goals total in the first quarter, and it was apparent early on that the Bruin defense was no match for the UCSB attack. Despite repeated attempts to get an offense started, UCLA was unable to keep possession on the attacking half.
The Bruins’ struggles were capped off with a minute left in the first when one of the few UCLA shots of the quarter was caught by senior goalie Mike Sheridan. Sheridan fed the ball out to senior defender Elliot Carney, who took it coast to coast with almost no pressure from UCLA and finished it with a goal from right in front of the net.
The second quarter opened up with a bang, as senior attack Nick Stratton cut up the UCLA defense to score after only 10 seconds had rolled off the clock. After a goal two minutes later by senior attack Dominic Dutra, Stratton struck again to put the Gauchos up 7-0. The Bruins’ best scoring chance of the first half came with five minutes left when a momentary breakdown in the UCSB defense left a UCLA attacker with the ball right in front of the net. Sheridan brilliantly saved his shot, and on the resulting possession senior midfielder Dustin Benesch notched a goal of his own, giving the Gauchos a 9-0 lead at halftime.
“Our defense is playing pretty well lately, but what’s helping us is the offense playing so well,” Schaible said. “They are controlling the ball a lot, which means that we don’t have to play as much defense.”
The second half was more of the same for both teams, and the Gauchos began to blow the game wide open. Finally, with 5:44 to play, UCLA notched their only goal of the match. Despite the boost, the Bruins could not get anything going late in the contest, and Santa Barbara continued to score at will. Dutra scored late in the fourth quarter with a fake pass and a behind the back shot on the follow through.
Santa Barbara’s final game of the regular season is this Saturday at Chapman, and the team will be preparing for WCLL playoffs one week later.