It was supposed to be all about the UC Davis offense. The Aggies (3-6-8 overall, 1-5-0 Big West) had a conference-leading striker, an offense with a 237-180 shot advantage and 10 different players with a goal to their name, yet it was UCSB’s women’s soccer team which provided all the fireworks in a 4-1 road thrashing at Davis last Friday. Unfortunately, the Gauchos (8-8-2, 5-1-1) seemingly exhausted their attacking potency on Friday, for on Sunday the preseason favorites could only manage a 0-0 overtime draw at Pacific.
In stark contrast to the overtime thrillers UCSB had to endure over their previous three matches, the Gauchos essentially ended Friday’s match with Davis before the game was 10 minutes old. Sophomore midfielder Cory Yoshida got the scoring started in the third minute after heading in a beautiful feed from junior forward Kylie McDonald for her first goal of the year. Santa Barbara wasted no time earning a cushion, as junior forward Kailyn Kugler netted her ninth of the year just three minutes later, as sophomore forward Alissa Sanchez found her on the right side. Already up 2-0, UCSB wasn’t done. Kugler found sophomore forward Katy Roby streaking down the middle of the box in the ninth minute for a 3-0 Gaucho advantage.
“That was amazing,” senior midfielder Jacqui Simon said of the win. “Everyone was pretty surprised. We were just finishing pretty much every shot we had in the beginning, so it was a nice comfort rather than having to come from behind.”
Down 3-0 in the blink of an eye, Davis could have quit right there but continued the attack and eventually earned a PK opportunity in the 53rd minute, which senior forward Rochelle VanBuskirk converted for her Big West-leading 13th of the year. UCSB responded minutes later with Roby’s second goal of the match after McDonald found the sophomore on the right side for her second assist of the game. The two teams finished the contest fairly even in shots, with the Gauchos holding the final 14-10 advantage, but it was the road team’s burst of brilliance in the opening minutes that sealed a 4-1 UCSB victory.
Santa Barbara looked to keep the offense clicking going into Sunday’s date with Pacific (9-5-2, 3-2-0), but a stingy Tiger defense had other ideas. After letting conference-leader Cal Poly squeak by with a 1-0 overtime victory while the Gaucho’s humbled UC Davis, Pacific knew they could shutdown a quality offense and proceeded to do so. The home team allowed only eight shots from the visitors, four of which were on goal, while taxing UCSB junior keeper Tammy Lenham. Of the 21 shots Pacific took, 12 were on frame, requiring a season-high 12 saves from Lenham. After earning none in the first half, the Tigers began working the endline in the second period, recording six of their game-high seven corner kicks in the last half of regulation.
With neither team in a conciliatory mood, extra time was needed to separate the two teams. But even after 110 minutes of play, UCSB and Pacific remained deadlocked at 0-0, with senior forward Genelle Ives unable to convert the Gauchos’ last chance in the 105th minute.
“Our game against Pacific was pretty rough,” Simon said. “It was a really physical game and the field was a lot smaller. It was something we had to adjust to. … But I think toward the end we started to figure it out.”
With a fairly successful weekend behind them, UCSB has sewn up a spot in the Big West Tournament, but it remains to be seen which seed they will hold. The Gauchos currently sit in second place with 16 points, two behind Cal Poly, making the annual revival of the central coast rivalry next Sunday at Harder Stadium all the more important. A win would give the Gauchos the regular season crown and home field throughout the Big West Tournament. A loss would yield the same benefits, but to the Mustangs instead.