After pulling out a big win over Cal Poly last Sunday, the UCSB women’s soccer team will take advantage of a one-game weekend against conference newcomer UC Davis. The Gauchos (10-5-1, 3-1-1 Big West) have not lost in their last three matches, and face an Aggies team that is 1-3-1 in only their second year in the Big West.
With just three games to go in the Big West, UCSB is currently tied for second place with Pacific (3-2-1 Big West), who has played one more game than Santa Barbara. With 10 points apiece, both teams trail Long Beach State (4-0-1 Big West) by three points for the conference lead. The Big West conference title aside, the big focus for every team is to make the NCAA postseason tournament. Bids to the tournament for winning the Big West season title are unlikely, and thus winning the Big West postseason tournament is the only guaranteed way for the Gauchos to make the NCAA postseason. Thus, while winning the Big West season title is a major goal for the Gauchos, they must finish in the top four to make the Big West tournament.
Last week’s 4-2 win at Cal Poly was a huge momentum builder. The Gauchos, who have struggled on the road in past years, led 2-0 at the half thanks to a pair of goals from sophomore midfielder Kailyn Kugler at the very unfriendly home pitch of their conference rival. While the Mustangs managed to score a quick goal after the break, junior forward Genelle Ives racked up a pair of her own after getting set up off stellar midfield play from senior Sami Svrcek and sophomore Jacqui Simon. Grabbing the full three points of the win prevented Cal Poly from moving up the Big West standings. The Mustangs currently sit in fourth with nine points.
The Big West picture right now leaves most of the standings wide open as the conference heads into its final two weeks. The Gauchos must win tomorrow night at Davis to help secure a spot because next weekend they face the top-ranked 49ers and UC Irvine, who is currently sitting in fifth place and will certainly be fighting hard for the postseason. Cal Poly, who has played one fewer game than the other teams at the top, is the big question mark at the moment. Sitting in fourth, they have an extra game to score points and could move up the rankings quickly if they win out. Long Beach State is currently undefeated, and they won’t likely be beaten by anyone but UCSB. Their matchup next week will likely decide the season champion. A Gaucho win puts the teams into a points tie, which would be broken by the UCSB win advantage in their matchup. Anything else, barring a surprise Long Beach loss, gives the 49ers the title.
But first Santa Barbara must beat the Aggies in their final road game of the season. Kickoff for today’s game is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Davis.