With National Championship aspirations in the back of their minds, the UCSB men’s lacrosse team got its season off to a great start over the weekend with back-to-back wins over Northern California foes Cal and Stanford. The #3 Gauchos (2-0) defeated the Bears (1-1) 9-7 on Friday night on the strength of five second- quarter goals. The next day, UCSB continued its winning ways with an 8-3 victory over the Cardinal (1-1).

Led by senior captain Cameron Sampson, Cal got off to a hot start in the first quarter of the season opener for both teams. Sampson scored three goals in the game’s first five minutes, but the Gauchos soon turned the momentum around and dominated the rest of the first half. A seven-goal run allowed UCSB to take a 7-3 lead into halftime. The Bears struck for three more goals in the third quarter, but UCSB held tough and took a 9-6 lead into the fourth quarter. The Gauchos failed to score in the final frame, but they held Cal to only one goal, clinching Santa Barbara’s first victory of the season.

Junior Brendan Sindell led the way for the Gauchos with four goals, followed by senior Ryan Brent and freshman Cole Bailey with two goals apiece. Brent, junior Brandon Johnson and freshman Nick Nyeholt tied for the team-high with two assists each.

The next afternoon’s game wasn’t nearly as close, with UCSB scoring in each of the four periods en route to a dominant victory. Sindell once again led the way with three goals, while Brent added two goals and an assist. Senior Keenan Tabusa and juniors Jack Miller and Ryan Souza each found the back of the net once. Two Gauchos split time in goal, with senior Juan Carlos Almerido finishing with six saves, and sophomore Zack Carson saving the only two shots he faced.

After traveling to Northern California last weekend, the Gauchos head south this weekend to take on UCLA (0-1) and USC (1-0). Saturday’s game against the Bruins is scheduled for 1 p.m., while the matchup with the Trojans is set for the same time on Sunday.