Last Friday the #5 UCSB women’s club lacrosse team took a trip down to UCLA to square off with the #6 Bruins. For most of the game, the Gauchos trailed UCLA, and with 20 minutes left to play, UCSB was down 8-5 and it wasn’t looking good.
“[The feeling that we had was] dismay,” Head Coach Paul Ramsey said. “We were thoroughly out-played by UCLA for the first 40 minutes of the game.”
The Gauchos, however, were not dead yet. UCSB began to show signs of life when sophomore attacker Ashley Antoon-Algieri scored with about 18 minutes left to bring the score to 8-6. About eight minutes later, senior midfielder Katie Moran scored to make it 8-7. Then, with almost nine minutes left and new life in sight, freshman midfielder Maegan Cruse fired a shot at the UCLA goal and tied the score 8-8.
“We knew we had the win after scoring the tying goal and finally evening out the score,” Moran said.
Almost three minutes later, that prediction would turn out to be true. With six minutes left in the game, Antoon-Algieri struck again for her second goal of the day to put the Gauchos ahead by one goal at 9-8.
“It’s a privilege to be the solidifying factor behind a team that plays hard until the last minute,” Antoon-Algieri said. “That night it was the whole team that fought for ground balls, kept UCLA from scoring, won the draws and scored three consecutive goals in order for us to tie; I just happened to be the one that scored [the last one].”
Ramsey was ecstatic with the comeback.
“I can’t remember [what I was thinking when the last two goals were scored],” Ramsey said. “I did a Joe Montana both times, though, arms up in the air signaling touchdown like it was a football game or something. Then we had about six minutes of UCLA having some chances and us just turning them away and getting the ball back each time.”
Santa Barbara has been better in the second stanza all year, and even if they are down for most, or all, of the first half, they know they can pick things up to close out games.
“UCSB is notorious for being a second-half team,” Moran said. “We wish this wasn’t the case, but we just have this spark that can ignite at any time.”
According to Ramsey, Santa Barbara was down most of the game because they were playing erratically; they were throwing the ball away and drawing too many penalties. In the last 20 minutes, the Gauchos cleaned up their play and locked down on defense. According to Ramsey, it was the defense stepping up, which was sparked by freshman goalie Jeni Centner making three straight saves, that made the comeback possible.
UCLA was the Gauchos’ seventh straight ranked opponent. This Thursday the Gauchos will play host to the #2 Cal Poly Mustangs, making it eight straight games against ranked opponents. According to Ramsey, his team, which is now 6-2 overall, is proud of their tough schedule.
“We take pride in playing a tough schedule,” Ramsey said. “There are teams ranked ahead of us right now that asked me to schedule them for at least two easy games at the Shootout. Their coach did not want more than two tough opponents. We could be undefeated right now since I control the schedule. I’d rather do it this way and the team takes pride in not slacking off.”
The Gauchos have two games this week. On Thursday they will play Cal Poly at home at 8 p.m. Then, on Saturday, they play host to UC San Diego at 1 p.m.