It’s tough to win games when your best players are stuck limping on the sidelines in street clothes, a situation that the wounded UCSB women’s soccer team knows all too well.

After a tough Northwest tour that resulted in two losses, the Gauchos (3-5-2, 0-0 in the Big West) start Big West Conference play tonight without yet another of their starting players, senior goalkeeper Katie Wright. Wright was injured late in last week’s match against Washington State, and has been replaced for now by freshman goalkeeper Cassi Franklin. Franklin’s first official start came Sunday against Gonzaga, and she had a quality outing despite giving up a goal.

Wright is just one of many Gaucho starters that are currently injured; however, Wright is the first in the Gaucho back. While the Santa Barbara attack has been forced to look to younger players for production, the UCSB defense has been solid all season. Santa Barbara has posted three shutouts on the year, an impressive feat considering the shallow roster. With Wright out, it will be up to Franklin to lock up the net.

The Gauchos open up Big West play tonight against two-time defending Big West Tournament champs Cal State Fullerton (6-3-1, 1-0 Big West). The game should prove to be a bit of a grudge match as Fullerton upset Santa Barbara in the first round of last year’s conference tournament. Last season the Gauchos finished 5-1-1 along with Long Beach State for a share of the conference title, and had a good shot at taking the Big West Tournament before the Titans stole their thunder. While Fullerton currently has the second-best overall record in the Big West, the Gauchos expect to come out firing after last year’s frustration.

Santa Barbara continues its homestand Sunday afternoon against UC Riverside. The Highlanders (6-4-0, 0-0 Big West) finished seventh with a dismal 2-4-1 Big West record last year. However, UCR has shown promise this year, especially on the offensive side of the field. They recently exploded for a 5-1 victory over Fresno State, and are fully capable of giving the Gaucho back a tough time. On the flip side, Riverside has given up each of their four losses by at least 2 goals, including a 5-1 routing by Oregon. The Harder Stadium factor should be a huge advantage considering the Highlanders have lost all of their away games.

Kickoff for tonight’s game is scheduled for 7 at Harder Stadium.