Searching for its first conference victory of the season, the UCSB women’s soccer team returns home to host UC Riverside on Sunday after a disappointing trip south last week.
UC Santa Barbara was shut out last weekend at Irvine and Northridge, losing both matches 1-0 to drop their record to 5-9-2 and 0-4 in conference.
“I think there is pressure that we need to win,” junior forward Dyanne Anderson said. “I think we can, it’s just a matter of everyone wanting to get it.”
Riverside, 6-6-1 on the season, opened up conference play last week losing 4-1 to visiting Davis before evening up their Big West record at 1-1 with a 1-0 shutout over Pacific.
UCSB Head Coach Paul Stumpf and the rest of the coaching staff will head up to Cal Poly this week to scout out the Highlanders’ performance against the Mustangs before preparing to take them on during Sunday’s game. Although winless in conference play, the Gauchos have lost each of their four Big West matches by one goal, two coming in overtime on penalty kicks.
“Our team right now is pretty defensive-minded,” senior and captain center midfielder Nicole Romanowski said. “The defensive part is what we definitely have down best and I don’t see that letting down at all. This week we need to focus on ways we can put a goal in.”
While defense has been an anchor for UCSB, one area where they are lacking is in offense, scoring only two goals in their four conference games with two shutouts coming in last weekend’s performances.
Anderson leads the team with four goals scored, but has not put one in the net since a 2-0 victory at Oakland back on Sept. 9, the last game in which the Gauchos scored more than one goal.
“Right now I think we have a little bit of a lack of confidence,” Romanowski said. “Especially if we go down first, it’s really hard to have confidence that we can pull out a win because we haven’t been scoring as much.”
UC Riverside, meanwhile, has scored more than one goal only once in that same timeframe in a 2-1 overtime victory over North Texas on Sept. 16. Another area where both Riverside and Santa Barbara are similar is in their defensive intensity and pressure.
“They’re a gritty, pretty gutsy group; very physical and hard working,” Stumpf said. “It’s going to be tough.”
Freshman goalkeeper Jessica Olafsen has started 10 of 13 games for the Highlanders with a 5-5 record in her appearances while recording three of the team’s four shutouts.
“Riverside always gives us a pretty good game,” Romanowski said. “They’re a scrappy team, so it makes it hard for us sometimes to play our game because they’re so physical. It should be a good game and I’m looking forward to another chance to turn it around and get a win finally.”
Kickoff on Sunday is scheduled for 5 p.m..