After four days of rest, the UCSB Women’s Soccer team (8-8-2 overall, 3-4-0 Big West), will close out its regular season on Friday with a game at Cal Poly.
The Mustangs have struggled in their past five games, ending a four game losing streak with a win against UC Davis on Sunday. Though the Gauchos are riding a two game winning streak, their first since August, Head Coach Paul Stumpf stated that momentum would not be a factor.
“When you’re playing your crosstown rival, you can throw all that stuff out the window,” Stumpf said.
The Mustangs beat the Gauchos last year 2-0 at Harder Stadium, but UCSB prevailed in the Big West championship game, winning on penalty kicks.
Cal Poly currently holds a 7-9-1 record, going 2-4-1 in the Big West. Despite the average record, the team has shown itself to be dangerous, and with players like forwards Whitney Sisler and Bianca Burright (who have combined for 27 points this season), the Gauchos are making sure not to take them lightly.
“We’ve played Cal Poly so often, we kind of know what to expect,” senior forward Kailyn Kugler said. “We’re such a mental team. If we’re mentally into it and willing to compete, there’s no way [we can] be stopped.”
Cal Poly has shown an inability to stop teams defensively, with 16.5 shots allowed per game compared to the Gauchos’ 11.3. In the four games prior to the UC Davis game, the Mustangs went scoreless, but at Davis, Cal Poly forward Sisler was able to earn her third multi-goal game of the season, proving herself as a possible threat to the UCSB’s streak of 180 scoreless minutes.
“We’re in every game because of our defense,” Stumpf said. “We’re tough to score on.”
The Mustangs have lost all of their games in which they shot less than 10 shots. If the UCSB defenders can limit the amount of shots by Cal Poly, especially from forwards Sisler and Burright, the chances of them leaving SLO with a win improve drastically.
A win this weekend would put the Gauchos in position to possibly earn a Big West Tournament berth. A loss, on the other hand, would end the Gauchos’ season.
“[This is] a huge game for us. We need a win,” Kugler said. “If we can take care of our part, there’s a really high chance [of making the Big West Tournament].”
The Blue-Green Rivalry will be renewed at 7 p.m. at Cal Poly’s Alex G. Spanos Stadium.