With a short conference season, it’s always a close race to the Big West playoffs, and right now the UCSB women’s soccer team is right in the thick of it. The Gauchos (5-8-3, 2-2 in the Big West) are a few points shy of making the postseason, but they do have an advantage of having played the fewest conference matches. For Santa Barbara, it all comes down to the final four matches, the last chances to grab some points.
“We have a couple of games left, so we aren’t too worried about the playoffs yet,” Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “What we are worried about is finding a way to get a result on Friday against Pacific. We’re not looking long-term yet, we are just playing each game as if it was a playoff game.”
The Gauchos play three of its last four games on the road, and travel has proven to be tough for the team with only one road win on the year. However, the next three matches are against the bottom three teams in the Big West. Although this should afford the Gauchos some good opportunities, Stumpf said that the standings are not something to rely on, especially in tonight’s grudge match against Pacific.
“I think once you get to conference, you can throw records out of the door,” Stumpf said. “We hate each other. Most of our girls know players on Pacific, so the best thing they can do is beat their friends and have bragging rights for a whole year. Of course, Pacific has the same exact mentality.”
For the Gauchos to beat Pacific, they will have to solve the problem that has plagued them all season long: inconsistent offense. UCSB has done an amazing job of salvaging a season many thought was lost due to injured personnel, but just salvaging is not enough; this team wants to win.
“We’ll always share the same personnel problems, we’ve got ten players that are done,” Stumpf said. “We need to just find a way to score some goals.”
Stumpf’s plan is to mix in more of a fast-break style of play with what the Gauchos have already been using. He hopes that spreading the defense more should give them better chances in front of the goal.
“Sometimes we don’t risk enough to gain,” Stumpf said. “It’s a very small field [at Pacific], so two or three passes and we are there.”
Kickoff for today’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Stockton.