A weekend jam-packed with action handed UCSB its first losses of the season, as well as a couple wins and a lot of good experience.
UCSB first visited Santa Clara on Thursday to warm up for the Nor-Cal Invitational. Santa Barbara came in favored, but at the end of regulation, a hard fought battle from both teams saw the score knotted at 5-5.
The first period came and went without a goal scored from either team. The second period was much of the same, as both teams continued to squander chance after chance.
Next came a sudden death victory, which seemed to wake up UCSB. After a failed Santa Clara offensive attack, senior center Lizzie Rouleau and junior attacker Katie Kepner counterattacked with a 2-1. Rouleau then sent Kepner, who lobbed over the head of the goalie to find the back of the cage. Santa Barbara won 6-5, and Kepner was ecstatic.
“Scoring the winning goal was awesome,” the junior said. “But I was more happy to help my team to another victory.”
Riding the momentum from Santa Clara, UCSB opened up tough against #3 Hawaii. The Gauchos led for much of the game and went into halftime with a tied score. But the Rainbow Wahine came out in the third period and showed why they are #3 in the nation, outscoring Santa Barbara 4-1. UCSB responded by outscoring Hawaii in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late. Santa Barbara had lost its first game of the 2010 season.
The Gauchos tried to rebound against #4 Cal, but a shaky first half cost them the game as Cal outscored Santa Barbara 8-3 in the first half. Kepner led the way with three goals. Freshman utility Sienna van Alphen, besides having the coolest name on the team, added two more goals in the 12-7 loss.
Having played three games in the past two days, UCSB was exhausted. However, nothing was going to stop them from defeating Sonoma State in their first game on Saturday.
The Gauchos caught the Seawolves off guard by jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first quarter. Santa Barbara then extended the lead to 6-1 at halftime, but the decisive blow came in the third quarter when UCSB scored six goals while shutting out Santa Clara. Sophomore utility Elle Quane led the offensive slaughter with three goals as UCSB went on to win 13-2.
Just after getting back to their winning ways, UCSB had to close out their tournament against #1 Stanford. The Gauchos fought hard until the end, even scoring a goal in the last minute, but eventually would lose 15-5 for their third loss of the tournament and season.
“Stanford is #1,” Kepner said. “There’s nothing more to say.”
After sweeping the Gaucho Mini Tournament last weekend, head coach Wolf Wigo said that this weekend would be a better indicator for where their team stands. Junior utility Kathryn Nelson agreed.
“[This weekend] showed us that we need to work on a lot of things,” Nelson said.
Despite the 2-3 weekend, the Gauchos are optimistic about the season, having played tough against the #3 and #4 teams in the nation.
“Other teams should be threatened,” Kepner said, “because we’re coming after them.”