No one person is perfect. As a team, however, perfection can be reached. The UCSB women’s field hockey team posted an undefeated record this past season, going 16-0-2. After winning the Big West conference and capturing the conference’s tournament title, the Gauchos entered the postseason and persevered, winning the entire Western Collegiate Field Hockey Conference with a 3-1 victory over Central Coast rival Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
“It feels great,” said senior right forward and co-captain Allie O’Connell. “We worked really hard the entire season and it was great to see it all pay off.”
O’Connell, the squad’s only senior, led the team in goals with seven and points with 14. Joining her as co-captains of the squad were junior center back Sheba Taherizadegan and junior center midfielder Brittany Eason.
By earning the top seed in the Best in the West tournament, UCSB received the right to play host to Cal State Long Beach, UC San Diego and Cal Poly in the final round. With home-field advantage on their side, the Gauchos were primed for a championship run.
“It was a huge advantage to play at home,” O’Connell said. “We had tons of fans out there supporting us.”
Easily beating UCSD in the semi-finals by a count of 3-0, the Gauchos were met with a familiar foe. After battling with Cal Poly all season and eventually edging them out to win league, the Gauchos were very familiar with the Mustangs when they met on Nov. 21 to determine the WCFHC championship. To call this matchup a rivalry may be an understatement.
“[Cal Poly] was our biggest competition all year,” said O’Connell. “We definitely got extra focused and pumped up to make sure we won.”
Playing in her final game as a Gaucho, O’Connell focused her energy into two scores to lead Santa Barbara to victory. Junior left forward Denise Russell also added a goal to cement the 3-1 final in front of the hometown faithful.
With no national tournament for field hockey, the Gauchos have officially ended their season. Though a lack of national recognition is disappointing, UCSB can proudly hang its hat on a thorough dominance of West Coast field hockey in 2009.