On a cold November night in Palo Alto, the UCSB women’s soccer team saw their season end in the NCAA Tournament’s first round with a disappointing 2-0 loss… again. While the defending Big West Tournament Champion Gauchos (9-10-3 overall) put in a spirited first 10 minutes, a quick start that had been lacking in previous contests, an own goal in the 12th seemed to take away the road team’s confidence and opened the floodgates for BYU’s (18-3-2) offense to add another score 27 minutes later.

“I felt that if [the own goal] didn’t happen, we would’ve had more confidence,” senior forward Genelle Ives said. “I thought they were very physical, a very good team, but I think the game could have gone a lot differently had we not scored on ourselves.”

After the own goal, which occurred as a direct result from a miscommunication between junior keeper Tammy Lenham and junior defender Julia Speace, BYU seemed to hit their stride offensively, pressuring the shaken Gaucho backline until Cougar forward Alyssa VanderVeur took a chance from 15 yards out and buried it inside the left post. UCSB tried to cut the deficit before halftime with seconds left in the first when freshman midfielder Erin Ortega broke away from the defense, but again senior keeper McKinzie Olson was able to snuff out the shot.

Going into the second half down 2-0, UCSB would need to force the issue offensively, yet it was the Cougars who finished the half with a 13-2 shot advantage. Lenham was forced to make 10 saves on the night for Santa Barbara and the stout BYU defense never let the Gauchos settle into an attacking rhythm. With the win, BYU advances to the second round to play the host school Stanford.

“I’m so pleased with the way these girls stuck with things [this season], stuck together and kept persevering and battling,” said Head Coach Paul Stumpf. “We graduate three seniors, but we have an outstanding class coming in … I’m so optimistic about the future of our program.”

Ives, Lenham and senior midfielder Sarah Stoltz all played their last game in the blue and white Thursday, but the cupboard certainly isn’t bare for UCSB in 2010. The Gauchos look to return the Big West Offensive Player of the Year in junior forward Kailyn Kugler and fellow junior forward Kylie MacDonald, who led the team in assists. With freshman forwards Victoria Thomas and Mady Johnson adding size to the future attack, an experienced keeper in sophomore Ali Cutler, and a veteran midfield featuring junior Jacqui Simon, sophomore Corey Yoshida and freshman Erin Ortega, look for UCSB to contend once again in 2010.