The UCSB women’s soccer team was able to end a tiresome season in strong fashion with a 2-1 victory over rival Cal Poly on senior night this past Friday.
The Gauchos said goodbye to 10 graduating seniors and ensured that their final performances as Gauchos were positive as they played critical roles in the victory.
“I think it’ll be a really nice way to look back and just remember the last game,” senior defender Alyssa Benjamin said.
Benjamin helped improve the Gaucho’s record to 7-11-2, 2-6 Big West, with her second goal of the season in the 53rd minute with a header from the center of the box off a corner kick from senior midfielder Katy Roby.
Roby proved to be more than just a passer in this game, scoring the team’s second goal on a penalty kick minutes later at the 56:26 mark.
“It was a big test,” Roby said. “[Penalty kicks] aren’t the funnest part of the game, but I’m glad it went in and we got the win because it would have sucked to tie Cal Poly.”
Cal Poly, which fell to 9-9-1 (3-5 Big West), tightened the match at 2-1 in the 61st minute when freshman forward Sara Lancaster sent the ball past sophomore goalkeeper Makenna Henry. Cal Poly had multiple opportunities to tie the game in the remaining minutes, but the Gaucho defense held strong for the victory.
“It was so rewarding to have all their efforts finally rewarded,” Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “It’s just an absolute dream that they get the result against our local rivals, their last game of their career at home.”
Senior goalkeeper Kat Serdio contributed to the win in the first half, making her first start of the season. Serdio held Cal Poly scoreless in the first half, making numerous plays, including a phenomenal one-handed diving save with just under a minute left in the first half.
“It changes the game for sure,” Stumpf said. “She is a great shot-stopper. It was a tough save and she got completely horizontal — one-handed save to parry it wide.”
Benjamin noted that the team made a mental adjustment to enter the second half and it showed immediately.
“I think to just kind of calm ourselves down,” Benjamin said. “To just really know that we can play and just have fun playing the way we play and not the way the other team does.”
Although their final year was not as successful as their previous three, the UCSB seniors will still go out as winners. As freshman and sophomores, they made consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament having won the Big West.
“No one is satisfied with the season they had,” Stumpf said. “But when they get away from this season a little bit and they look back at their careers, my hope is that they will be very satisfied and pleased with their book of work in total. Not many people can say they’ve been to the NCAA tournament and even fewer can say that they made it two out of four years.”
This year’s senior class can go off happy knowing it competed in every match and left UCSB with one final great memory with a victory against their rivals. Roby summed it up best.
“We don’t like Cal Poly so this was great,” Roby said.