Despite winning its seventh Big West opener in the last eight years, the UCSB women’s soccer team was stuck with its third weekend split in a row. On Friday, sophomore midfielder Jacqui Simon netted two goals to lead the Gauchos (8-5-0, 1-1 Big West) over UC Riverside (5-7-1) in the 2-1 opener. Sunday’s game against Cal State Fullerton didn’t fare as well for Santa Barbara as the defending Big West champion Titans held UCSB to a 2-0 shutout. The loss was only the second time this season that UCSB has been held scoreless, but the previous time came just a week ago against ASU.
The Highlanders struck first on Friday, going up 1-0 in the 26th minute. Senior forward Tessa Lennala placed a left footer that beat freshman keeper Ali Cutler for Lennala’s fifth goal of the season.
Not content with heading into the half down by a goal, the Gaucho attack found the equalizer in the 34th minute in a display of the offensive connectivity Santa Barbara has spent a lot of time perfecting. Freshman midfielder Cory Yoshida started things off with a pass to junior forward Genelle Ives on the right side, who provided the connection to Simon, who had just split into the center of the box. Simon finished into the net to send UCSB into overtime with an even game.
Santa Barbara, the favorite coming into the matchup, burst out of the locker room in the second half ready to grab the win. Just five minutes into the half, Simon did exactly that, when sophomore forward Kylie McDonald found her posted up about 13 yards out. Simon blasted in the eventual game-winner, and moved atop the Gaucho scoring charts with her fifth goal of the year. Santa Barbara outshot the Highlanders 24-15, including a dominant 17-8 shots on goal margin.
Coming off the quality comeback win in the opener, UCSB headed to Fullerton Sunday night with every expectation of knocking off the defending champs. The Gauchos opened up the first half in controlling fashion, outshooting the Titans 9-2 in the first 45 minutes. Despite Santa Barbara looking like the far better team, CSUF held on and made it into the half without giving up a goal. Most of the Gaucho attack had their best chances thwarted by the stellar Titan goalkeeper, while senior forward Michelle Russell had the best chance in the 41st minute, when her one-on-one shot against the keeper barely missed the frame.
The story changed dramatically after the break, with a regrouped Fullerton team bringing heat to Santa Barbara. The two teams duked it out with no result until the 78th minute, when senior Jenae Gibbens’ throw-in was flicked on to freshman forward Janae Deas, who was sitting at the left post. Deas bumped the ball into the net for her first goal in a month. Deas found the back of the net again in the 84th minute, when a pass found her camped at the top of the box. Her shot was drilled into the net to put the game away.