Home-field advantage is never a thing to be taken lightly, and this is especially true when other teams have to travel 3,000 miles to play you. The #20 UCSB women’s soccer team (6-3-0) learned that lesson the hard way after losing to the University of Hawaii (3-3-2) in the championship match of the Outrigger Hotels & Resorts Soccer Classic. The Rainbow Wahine scored the golden goal in the 98th minute to steal the championship and beat the highest ranked opponent in UH women’s soccer history.
“We were one goal away in overtime from having a great weekend,” Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “We had two shots in overtime that should have won the game, but we missed them.”
Santa Barbara had their work cut out for them early after Kristyn Shapka drove into the Gaucho defense and ripped a shot from just outside the box that bamboozled sophomore goalkeeper Tammy Lenham. The goal put the Rainbow Wahine up 1-0 in just the 18th minute. Stumpf said that the defensive mistake was not due to the traditional perils of playing in sunny Hawaii.
“I’ve talked a to a lot of my friends who have made this trip before, and they all say that you need to watch yourself while in Hawaii, and to watch out for the referees,” Stumpf said. “I told the team that it’s not like we’re from Nebraska. We get to enjoy the sun and beach at home in Santa Barbara, so they didn’t get too distracted.”
UCSB battled UH solidly through to the second half, but couldn’t find the shot that would knot things up. Finally, as desperation time approached, sophomore forward Kyle McDonald knocked one in from the left side off a stellar pass from junior forward Genelle Ives. Ives and McDonald are only two of the four Gauchos to record three goals apiece so far this season. In only nine matches, UCSB has already scored 20 goals.
“I think [McDonald] scoring showed a lot of character, to keep on battling even as time was running out,” Stumpf said. “I thought at that point we were going to carry the momentum to win the game.”
Santa Barbara made a strong showing in the closing minutes, but Hawaii goalkeeper Kori Lu did an excellent job of closing the net down to finish with seven saves. Neither team could find the back of the net, and McDonald’s shot pushed the championship match into overtime.
The Gauchos stormed into the first overtime period with all of the momentum of their recent goal. The Santa Barbara attack drove deep into extremely dangerous territory twice, but neither time finished with a goal.
“We missed two easy shots that would have won it,” Stumpf said. “We had one from six yards and one from eight. One missed the frame completely, and the other was poorly hit and didn’t even make their keeper work.”
Feeling close to the biggest victory in their program history, UH attacked hard from the beginning of the overtime period. Eight minutes in, a picture perfect through ball forced Lenham to come out and cut off Chelsea Deptula. The two collided, and Deptula managed to snake by Lenham and plunk in the winner. Stumpf felt that the Gauchos let the championship slip away needlessly.
“That’s why I get so nervous during soccer games,” Stumpf said. “We led in shots, we led in corner kicks, and we led in possession. We controlled the game and we still lost. They better learn from it.”
The Gauchos’ loss was a disappointment after they dominated their semifinal match against Montana (1-6-1). Four different Gauchos scored in the 4-0 massacre. Montana held the overpowering Gaucho attack at bay for most of the first half, but in the 35th minute, junior midfielder Sarah Stoltz opened the floodgates with a perfectly placed lob shot from out deep that made it over the goalkeeper’s head. Just five minutes later, freshman midfielder Cory Yoshida took advantage of confusion in the box and scored her second goal of the year to put UCSB up 2-0.
Santa Barbara continued to rack up goals in the second half. Freshman forward Emily Ohlhaver got deep into the box in the 66th minute, and recorded her first goal of her Gaucho career with a laser shot from eight yards. Finally, in the 77th minute, Ives showed off her skills by cleaning up a rebound and scoring to ice the game at 4-0. At the end of the day, it was all about Santa Barbara, who out-shot Montana 18-4.
“Montana is a team that, unfortunately, had the schedule go against them,” Stumpf said. “They had to play on Thursday and then against us on Friday. Montana is a team that struggled a little bit, and I know they were frustrated.”
The Gauchos continue their lengthy road trip this weekend with a pair of high-heat games in Arizona. Santa Barbara, after winning its sixth game to tie last season’s mark, gets a chance to get back to its winning ways against Arizona State tomorrow night. After a day of rest, UCSB will head over to the University of Arizona to play on Sunday.