After a rough beginning to an injury-marred season, the UCSB women’s soccer team picked things up tremendously with a pair of wins over the weekend. The Gauchos have climbed back to .500 after their current four-game unbeaten streak, with the most recent win courtesy of a dazzling last-minute goal from senior midfielder Romy Barber to beat San Diego State 2-1 in double overtime.
Barber’s 108th-minute goal Sunday night came just as a tie was looking like a sure bet. Freshman midfielder Kailyn Kugler scored the assist by blasting a shot from the corner of the box. Kugler’s attempt was blocked, but the ball rebounded to Barber who finish the job. Barber had only scored one goal in her career before this season, but she has already tallied three in this year’s effort.
UCSB opened the scoring a whole 100 minutes earlier in the match. Kugler whipped a corner kick into the box that found the head of sophomore midfielder Sarah Stoltz. Foreshadowing the eventual game winner, the first shot was blocked but not held onto, and freshman forward Brooke Salyer knocked it in to put the Gauchos up 1-0.
The match was a stalemate for the next half of the game until the Aztecs knotted up the score with 25 minutes to play in regulation. A San Diego forward pushed through the Gaucho defense and sent a pass to the top of the box, which was blasted just under the crossbar to even things up 1-1. Both teams looked like they could have won in the final minutes, but solid defensive play on both sides meant that Barber’s winner didn’t come until the very end.
Solid defense has been a trademark of this UCSB team, and they displayed their prowess along with some explosive offense Thursday night with a 3-0 shutout at Cal State Bakersfield. Before that night, the Gauchos had only scored four goals in their previous six matches.
The Gauchos once again opened the scoring when junior forward Michelle Russell found the net in the 14th minute. Russell was set up from a wall pass between junior midfielder Sami Svercek and Salyer. Seven minutes later, Barber notched her first goal of the weekend off an assist from senior defender Katrina Wright. The other Wright in the back, senior goalkeeper Katie Wright, anchored the Gaucho defense that recorded its third shutout of the season. Same as the match against SDSU, Wright needed only one save in the game, but collected and cleared enough balls to effectively stifle the Bakersfield offense.
Just 15 minutes into the second half, Kugler continued her stellar freshman showing with her second career goal off an assist from Russell. Kugler’s goal put Santa Barbara up 3-0, and the Gauchos cruised through the rest of the match to record the win.
The Gauchos are now heading out for a Northwest tour with a Friday match against Washington State and a Sunday game against Gonzaga.