The UCSB men’s club lacrosse team came into the weekend looking to avenge an earlier loss to Arizona State and to solidify a birth into the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association National Championships. The Sun Devils had other plans. Hampered by the loss of two starting midfielders to sickness, UCSB could not keep up with Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz. on Saturday, falling 14-8 in the first round of the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League Tournament.
When these two teams first met on April 6, the Gauchos lost a 9-8 thriller at home. Given the chance for a rematch in the conference quarterfinals, the Gauchos were excited to prove the first time was a fluke. What they got was a convincing defeat.
“For the most part, we just didn’t show up to play,” junior midfielder Loren Schoch said.
The Gauchos dug themselves into an early hole, allowing two Arizona State goals in the first quarter while being shut out themselves. UCSB was able to counter in the second period, putting up nine shots to ASU’s five. Unfortunately for the Santa Barbara attackers, only two of their shots actually found the back of the net, while all but one of the Sun Devils’ shots did. The halftime score stood 6-2 Arizona State, which, while not ideal, was still within striking distance for the Gauchos. However, things would only get worse for UCSB.
Arizona State piled it on in the third quarter, outscoring the Gauchos 5-0 and putting the game out of reach. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, UCSB found themselves down 11-2, a far cry from the close game the last time these teams met.
“We never got our rhythm going out there,” junior attacker Brendan Sindell said. “We couldn’t get the ball on the offensive end, and when we did, [we made] a lot of unforced turnovers.”
Once the game was out of reach, the Sun Devils eased up a bit and Santa Barbara was able to get some offensive production. The Gauchos scored six goals in the final frame to ASU’s three, but by that point it was too late.
Even with the loss, UCSB still looks to be in a decent position heading into the MCLA Championships. The Gauchos will likely earn a double-digit seed in the field of 16, but will at least have a chance to keep playing. And despite their struggles against Arizona State, this team is very confident in what they can do.
“This team has proven their ability to play against anyone in the country,” Sindell said. “We went up against Chapman [University], possibly the best team in the country, and we only lost by one. And that game could have gone either way.”
Sindell was referring to the April 12 divisional game held at The Pit that came down to the wire. UCSB almost took down the Panthers, but wound up falling 12-11 for their first and only divisional loss.
Assuming the Gauchos do make the MCLL playoffs, UCSB is ready to take on anyone.
“Really, anybody can win it,” Schoch said. “There hasn’t really been one team that has dominated. Depending on which team of ours shows up, we definitely have a chance to win the whole thing.”