Beginning Friday, Santa Barbara will play host to lacrosse teams from all over the country for the 21st Annual Santa Barbara Shootout. According to Head Coach Paul Ramsey, the Shootout has become even more popular since it was made a part of the regular season schedule.

“It’s always been a popular preseason tournament,” Ramsey said. “When we added the [Women’s Division Intercollegiate Associates] last year [the equivalent of the NCAA] and changed the games over from preseason scrimmages to games that count on everyone’s national record, the result was an increase in interested teams. Now it kicks off the season with teams from all over the country.”

UCSB will play five games in three days and will open the tournament against the University of Michigan on Friday. On Saturday it will face off with Brigham Young University and the University of Florida. The Gauchos will then close the tournament on Sunday against Colorado State University and the University of Georgia. Playing five games in three days can wear a team down both mentally and physically, so the Gauchos need to focus on coming out with enough energy for every game that they play.

“The toughest part of a tournament schedule is getting mentally prepared for each game,” senior midfielder Katie Moran said. “It’s easy to say ‘Forget all the other games, let’s just focus on X.’ But our goal for the tournament is to come out with ample energy for each game, no matter who the competitor is. Last year we won all of our games at the Shootout, and we were placed first in league standings after the tournament. That’s something that I’m sure is motivating the team. We’ve prepared physically by taking it easy this week and not stressing our muscles too much.”

Not only will the Gauchos have little time to rest off the field, they will also receive no breaks on it. According to Ramsey, all five of Santa Barbara’s opponents are ranked in the top 25. In order to overcome their formidable adversaries this weekend, the Gauchos will have to look ahead only far enough to see their next opponent.

“[We have to] play each game as if it’s the only game we have all month, but also be smart about doing everything possible to stay healthy,” Ramsey said.

Because the Gauchos have so many opponents this weekend, they cannot become too focused on strategizing for any one team.

“We have to remember to have fun and play our game,” Moran said. “Let the other teams catch up to our pace.”

Friday’s opening contest against the University of Michigan is set to begin at 6 p.m. in Harder Stadium.