With the playoffs just around the corner, both the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams are preparing to fight for national titles. Before they do that, however, they need to finish the last few games of their seasons.
Both teams were in action over the weekend; the men hosted division rival Claremont and the women traveled to Cal Poly to take on the fourth-ranked team in the nation. The men’s squad edged out a 12-9 win, but the women were blasted by the Mustangs 9-21.
In their first game since playing seventh-ranked UCLA on March 12, the #3 UCSB women’s lacrosse team (10-2, 2-1 in division) traveled to Cal Poly for its second-to-last regular season game. Cal Poly took the lead 30 seconds in, but six minutes later UCSB tied it up off a goal from sophomore attacker Maeg Cruse. The tie was short lived, as just a minute later Cal Poly went on a run of six unanswered goals. Senior captain and midfielder Maggie Aker scored to break the run, but the Mustangs replied with another six goal run to make the score 13-2. Freshman midfielder Katie Mitchell gave the Gauchos one more goal before the half ended, but it was clear that Santa Barbara would have to shake off a lot of rust to even have a shot at winning the game.
“We never had the ball, or so it seemed,” Head Coach Paul Ramsey said. ”It’s impossible to come back unless winning the draw changes. It has to completely reverse. At that point you can’t even come back winning half the draws.”
The Gauchos started to come together in the second half, but it wasn’t enough. Though they were only outscored 8-6 and actually outshot Cal Poly 14-13, they still lost the majority of the draws and were unable to mount a full comeback. With just one game remaining before the playoffs, UCSB is not panicking.
“If we get back to playing at the level we were playing before Spring Break, we’ll be fine,” Ramsey said.
While the women were battling Cal Poly, the men were in a tussle with Claremont. Santa Barbara (7-4, 2-0 in division) got the scoring started early when senior midfielder and captain Ryan Souza bounced a pass into the Claremont goal to give the Gauchos a 1-0 lead. Following that goal, Santa Barbara was unable to regain possession for the next 10 minutes. However, thanks to the great play of senior goalie Zack Carson, who made 17 saves in the game, Claremont only managed to score twice. Santa Barbara finally got the ball back with about two minutes left, and was able to take a 3-2 lead before the quarter ended.
“Ultimately our defense made plays when we needed them to, especially our man-down unit, and the offense is dangerous and always a threat to score,” Head Coach Mario Waibel said.
After the first quarter, the Gauchos didn’t exactly cruise through the remainder of the game, but they only relinquished the lead once more, when Claremont tied the game at four with 13 minutes left in the second quarter. However, UCSB ended the first half with an 8-4 lead and, thanks to its stellar defensive play and superior ball control, maintained the lead for the remainder of the game. Though they still have three games left, the Gauchos are convinced that they are ready to make a run at the title. They are now 2-0 in their division and have gone 6-1 since Feb. 15.
“I am confident that we are ready for the postseason, but the fact is that we need to keep winning games to earn a spot in the tournament; so our focus is firmly on LMU this weekend,” Waibel said.
The men’s next game will be on Saturday at 2 p.m. when they host division rival Loyola Marymount University. The women’s final regular season game is this weekend, hosting unranked Pepperdine Saturday at 11 a.m.