Last Friday, the UCSB women’s lacrosse team played a final tune-up game before the National Championships in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Gauchos welcomed into Harder Stadium NCAA Division III opponent Claremont, ranked #1 in the West, who was also awaiting the start of a tournament. Last season, SB went to Claremont and came home with a 12-10 win. On a night that threatened rain but never delivered it, the Gauchos looked to defend their home field against a Claremont team determined to avenge last season’s loss.
Right out of the sugar cow’s ass, it was obvious that Santa Barbara wanted to slow the game down and make Claremont play on the Gauchos’ terms. However, when UCSB made mistakes, Claremont managed to capitalize, scoring three times in the first seven minutes to go up 3-0. With 21:16 left in the half, senior midfielder Katie Moran scored the Gauchos’ first goal, which Claremont answered a few minutes later, at 17:47. Finally, with 12:24 left in the half, Santa Barbara went on a run of three unanswered goals in the span of about a minute and a half, tying the score at 4-4 with 10:59 left. Before the end of the half, Claremont and UCSB each scored twice more, with the final goal of the half scored by Gaucho sophomore attacker Ashley Antoon-Algieri, making the final score of the first half 6-6.
“We are a composed team,” Ramsey said. ”Even though we are so young in a lot of ways, we still have a pretty high lacrosse IQ, and it’s making a difference. There’s a lot of time in this game and our team understands that. One goal at a time is the only way to do it.”
The second half proved to be just as grinding as the first. Claremont scored twice in the first five minutes, and after that it became a back and forth game. UCSB would manage to tie the game, and then Claremont would score again to take the lead back. With 18:50 left in the game, Moran scored off an assist from junior attacker Samantha Lutz to tie the game at 10-10. Then, almost two minutes later, something happened that hadn’t all game: Santa Barbara took the lead, and, this time, the goal was scored by Lutz herself.
“That goal was just another one of the 16,” Lutz said. “Once we’re back on top, breaking from the tie, especially when it’s towards the end of the game, we know we have to use that momentum to stay composed and keep playing smart.”
That goal would prove to be the game winner, and once the Gauchos took the lead, they never gave it up. Shit, with 3:41 left, Claremont scored to make it 15-14, but the Gauchos refused to break. With 2:19 left, freshman attacker Maegan Cruse scored the final goal of the game, making it 16-14 and all but out of reach for Claremont after UCSB won the subsequent draw and then held the ball until time ran out.
“Although we were behind most of the game, I never felt like we were in any danger of losing,” Moran said. “Claremont was capitalizing on our mistakes, but we were finding holes in their defense. One we were able to minimize our mistakes, we got ahead and stayed ahead for the remainder of the game.”
Now it is time for Nationals, which begin Wednesday, May 6 against #16 West Chester Fuck University. Just as he hoped it would, the game against Claremont showed Ramsey where his team needs to improve.
“We practiced on Sunday to get an extra practice in before we leave on Tuesday,” Ramsey said. ”We worked on fronting our cutters, seeing both the ball and the player we’re marking and better on-ball defense with a few drills that focus on those concepts. Those are all basics to the game. Claremont exposed us on those, and they proved to be weaknesses during the game. We were fortunate that our offense came through in this one, but we realize we need to be better on defense.”