After a well-fought 0-0 tie against Santa Clara Wednesday night, the UCSB women’s soccer team will try to carry its momentum into a match against Cal Poly Saturday night. The Gauchos (5-7-3 overall, 2-1 in the Big West) are currently tied for second in the Big West with the Mustangs (4-8-1, 2-1 Big West), and coming out on top in the tiebreaker will go a long way toward pushing UCSB into the postseason.

Cal Poly, like Santa Barbara, played a tough preseason schedule and its record doesn’t reflect the quality of team that it is. However, the Mustangs do like to split hairs in their games. Eight of their 12 games that resulted in a decision were decided by one goal, and they have lost every time an opponent has scored more than once. For the Gauchos to win, they are going to have to whittle away at the Cal Poly backline all game with the aim of eventually breaking them down.

With most of the Gauchos’ upperclassmen sidelined due to injuries, the team’s freshmen have led the offensive charge. Freshman forward Kailyn Kugler tops the Santa Barbara scoring chart with six goals and 14 points, while freshman midfielder Jacqui Simon has found the net twice. Simon will have more of a presence on the field after junior forward Michelle Russell suffered an ankle injury, and her numbers should improve accordingly.

Despite the freshman surge, the upperclassmen still have had quite a presence. Junior midfielder Sami Svrcek has been a force for the Gauchos all season long, and her performance Wednesday night was proof of her dominance in the midfield. She leads the team with 29 shots, but is still looking for her first score. Racking up the assists has been senior defender Katrina Wright, who has set up four goals coming off the wing.

On the other side of the field, the Mustangs will have to contend with Santa Barbara’s stellar defensive unit. The Gaucho back has recorded three shutouts in the last five games and six total on the year. With senior goalkeeper Katie Wright back at full strength after a shoulder injury in a nasty collision a few weeks ago, and co-captain defenders Kandice McLaughlin and Rachael Ritchey in the center back spots, UCSB has a veritable fortress set up around the goal.