At a crucial point of the season, the UCSB women’s soccer team played solidly over the weekend with a pair of shutouts. With Friday’s 0-0 tie at the University of the Pacific and yesterday’s 1-0 win over UC Davis, the Gauchos picked up four points to move into fourth place in the Big West conference.
Only the top four teams in the Big West advance to the two-round playoffs, and with only a pair of games left to play in the regular season, Santa Barbara will have to keep winning to assure a place in the postseason. As it sits right now, Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly all are tied in first place with 12 points. The Gauchos now have 10, but Irvine has nine and two more games to play than Santa Barbara, so UCSB has to be rock solid to finish near the top.
Rock solid is exactly what the Gauchos were in yesterday’s match against the Aggies. The match was the final home game of the season, and before the game the Gauchos honored their seven seniors playing at Harder Stadium for the final time. Senior defender Kandice McLaughlin left in the best possible way by scoring a masterful game-winner in the 38th minute. Junior midfielder Sami Svrcek was fouled outside of the right corner of the box, giving McLaughlin a crack at the free kick. McLaughlin – who scored on three free kicks last season – sent a shot over the Davis wall and barely under the crossbar to record her first goal of this season.
The Gaucho back allowed only seven shots, and senior goalkeeper Katie Wright only needed two saves to secure the shutout. Wright had a much bigger role in Friday’s double-overtime shutout, saving eight of Pacific’s 16 shots. The Gauchos couldn’t find the back of the net despite 18 shots, and they had a bit of trouble finding an offensive rhythm thanks to five offsides calls. Head Coach Paul Stumpf had planned before the game to mix in a more aggressive approach to their offensive scheme in the aim of getting better scoring opportunities. The tactic worked in upping the Gaucho shot count, but resulted in the Santa Barbara forwards getting flagged for being behind the defense.