Coming off a disappointing 3-2 double-overtime loss to Seattle University last weekend, the UCSB women’s soccer team resumes conference play this weekend on the road against UC Davis and Pacific, ending a four-game homestand at Harder Stadium. Last year, the Gauchos (7-8-1 overall, 4-1 in Big West) came away with a 2-0 win at Davis (6-7-1, 1-4) but could only manage a draw with the Tigers (9-4-2, 3-1) at home.
“We’re just going to have to get used to not playing at home,” junior forward Kailyn Kugler said. “We’ve been home for a while. We’ll just have to go up there and deal with the adversities that we have. We’ll do well.”
All eyes will be on senior forward Rochelle VanBuskirk this Friday when the Aggies play host to Santa Barbara. The Pleasant Hill native leads the Big West in goals (12) and points (28), while also contributing assists to the Davis attack. And though the speedy VanBuskirk will draw most of the defensive attention, Davis has other weapons, as well. Fellow senior forward Marisa Boge has six goals and four assists this year and is one of 10 Aggies to have found the back of the net this year. With that potent of an offense, it’s hard to fathom how Davis has managed only a 1-4 record in the Big West. The Aggies have lost three straight conference matches, most recently a 2-1 loss to Pacific. Junior keeper Sarah Peters has allowed 17 goals this season and has only one shutout to her credit thus far.
The weekend’s Sunday matchup features UCSB and Pacific, a team that, like UC Davis, has all the offense it could want. Four different Tigers have registered three or more goals this season, with freshman phenomenon Maricela Padilla leading them all with eight. The midfielder out of San Jose also has two assists on the year. As a team, Pacific has outscored its opponents 26-13, most likely due to its obscene 213-129 shot advantage. Junior keeper Jill Medigovich will get the starting nod in goal, having started all previous Tiger matches. Medigovich has allowed only 13 goals with 46 saves and five shutouts.
To come away with two valuable conference road victories, UCSB’s best defense will be a good attack. Against two quick offenses the Gauchos will need to keep possession in the midfield and consistently generate quality chances. So far, Santa Barbara has been adept at producing corner kick opportunities — holding a 97-44 advantage in that category — but only converted their first last Sunday against the Redhawks. Senior forward Genelle Ives looks to earn more playing time as she eases back into the rotation, giving UCSB the size they desperately need up front. With Ives almost back in form, the duo of Kugler — who leads Santa Barbara with eight goals — and fellow junior forward Kylie McDonald should be able to share the goal-scoring burden.
“[Ives] is getting there,” Kugler said. “She really helps a lot, you can already tell. It’s good to have her back.”
UCSB takes on UCD this Friday at 2 p.m., while their match with Pacific is set to kick off at 12 p.m. on Sunday.