The UCSB women’s lacrosse team traveled to Los Angeles over the weekend to open the postseason with the Western Women’s Lacrosse League championship tournament, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the WDIA tournament in Scottsdale, Ariz. that begins on May 5. After defeating #16 Arizona State and the #4 Mustangs of Cal Poly, the Gauchos missed out on a three-peat as WWLL champions, as they fell to #1 Santa Clara in the championship match.
Things went UCSB’s way against Arizona State almost immediately. Sixteen seconds into the game, junior midfielder Alyssa Nelsen got the scoring started before four of her teammates combined for five unanswered goals. Arizona finally got on the board with less than 10 minutes left, but Santa Barbara held a 6-1 lead heading into the half.
The second half did not go as smoothly. The Sun Devils struck first out of the stoppage to make the score 6-2 and went on to match UCSB goal for goal to win the half 7-6. However, UCSB had a huge advantage in ground balls, winning 17 in each half to limit Arizona State’s possessions and help give them a 12-8 victory.
“[Ground balls] were an area where we outmatched ASU,” Head Coach Paul Ramsey said. “They put the ball down for us to get it far too many times.”
Not long after that game ended, UCSB was back on the field for their next game against Cal Poly. Just two weeks earlier, Cal Poly had handed UCSB a sound 21-9 drubbing, and while the Gauchos tried to keep revenge off their minds, it was hard to do with so much riding on the outcome of the game.
“Revenge or payback really shouldn’t be a factor when planning for a game against someone the second or third time around, but it does affect your focus” Ramsey said.
Sophomore attacker Megan Dawe opened the scoring 55 seconds into the game, and after a very back-and-forth half, the Gauchos went into the break with a 6-4 lead. Just like Arizona, Cal Poly won the second half by a goal (5-4) but was thwarted by UCSB’s superior shooting and ground ball control, which gave Santa Barbara the 10-9 win and a chance to play for the championship.
“Our defense played outstanding,” Ramsey said. “If we continue that and get draw controls and have patience on offense, we can beat anyone we play in the postseason.”
The first time UCSB faced Santa Clara this season, the Broncos barely escaped with a 21-11 win. After the Gauchos played them to a 4-4 tie in the first half on Sunday, it looked as if it was going to be another close game. However, Santa Barbara had several key turnovers in the second half that Santa Clara was able to capitalize on, letting the Broncos take home the WWLL title with a 12-6 win.
“We won the first draw of the second half and then turned it over on the first pass after possession,” Ramsey said. ”They went down and scored. That was the second half for us all game, giving them the game.”
The women return to action May 5 for the WDIA tournament. They are currently the third seed in the tournament and are set to play their first game against #14 Oregon.