UCSB Women’s Club Soccer Head Coach Todd Heil can finally lift his ban on a team T-shirt that reads “On the Road to Five,” as the women edged out rival Cal Poly 1-0 in Saturday’s championship match to make their five-peat a reality that can’t be jinxed. Over the three-day NCCS national tournament the No. 1 seed Gauchos won six games, with 19 goals against the most talented teams in the nation. Five women came home with all-tournament honors, including most valuable player Laura Capparilli and most outstanding keeper Carolyn Upton, who allowed only two goals during the weekend.
“I knew our road to the championship game was going to be difficult,” Heil said. “The girls faced a gauntlet just to have a chance at a fifth National Championship. But they weren’t just up to the task, they excelled.”
The Gauchos beat an impressive series of teams, including Region I and II season champions University of North Carolina (2-0) and University of Pittsburgh (2-1), as well as Region IV champions University of Texas (3-0), who the Gauchos defeated in the 2010 finals.
In its first game against Texas Christian University (2-0), the team battled nerves and struggled to find a rhythm but second half goals from forward Hayley Raguse and defender Annie Curry, assisted by forward Kara Lai, calmed the women into a more controlled pace.
“I think a lot of us get the pre-game jitters just because it’s nationals and it’s such a big tournament, so it takes a little while to get adjusted,” Curry said.
The closest challenge to the Gaucho five-peat was Pittsburgh’s 78th minute goal, which forced a 1-1 quarter-final overtime. In the final minutes Capparilli found the bottom left corner of the net off a recovery on a poor deflection from a Pittsburgh defender for the golden goal.
“We wanted it more,” Capparilli said. “We were in better shape, our hearts were in it and we put the pressure on them as soon as the whistle blew. We did what it took to find a way to win.”
Capparilli also scored the only goal of the championship match against Cal Poly, turning a left-back to create space for a clear shot in the 24th minute.
“The last 10 minutes of the game was just everyone giving everything they had left to keep the ball away from our goal,” Capparilli said. “It felt so good when the ref blew the whistle.”
Cal Poly’s only shot on goal during the first half was in the sixth minute, while the Gauchos had four looks during the first 40 minutes.
“I thought we played one of our best games of Nationals in the championship game against Cal Poly,” Heil said. “The girls did an incredible job of asserting themselves from the beginning of the game and it showed with a goal in the first half.”
UCSB Men’s Club Soccer competed in the national tournament for the first time in two years, under the direction of new Head Coach RJ Wilson. The Gauchos beat Colorado State (2-0) and Missouri (2-1) in pool play, and won their first championship flight against Texas State (5-4) in penalty kicks after a scoreless 15 minute overtime period. After an impressive 9-3-1 season record and a 3-0 win against a local club national team, the men were knocked out by North Carolina 3-0 in the quarter final match.