In desperate need of a win after a disappointing two-game road trip last weekend, the UCSB women’s soccer team returns to Harder Stadium this weekend to face the University of Hawaii and Cal State Northridge. With this home stand being the last of the season, UCSB plans on feeding off the home crowd atmosphere and hopes to send off its seniors in winning fashion as they play in their final home games of their careers.
Still without a conference victory four games into league play, the Gauchos record stands at 3-9-2 overall and are in eighth place in the Big West at 0-3-1. Coming off two tough losses against Long Beach State and UC Irvine, UCSB has lost five of its last six games and understands this home stand can make or break the season.
“These last few games mean absolutely everything for us to make it into the Big West [Tournament],” senior midfield/ forward Dyanne Anderson said. “We need to win every game from here on out to even have a shot at making it into the Big West Tournament; I think we can win these last five games.”
UC Santa Barbara will bid an emotional farewell to three seniors: midfielder/defender Erin Ortega, who has started for the Gauchos since her freshman season, Anderson, who has been with the program for two years, and forward Lauren Kennedy.
“It would mean everything to me [to win] because this is my last time playing at this home stadium,” Anderson said. “It means absolutely the world to me. I think it will be really emotional because I think it is just going to absolutely hit me; it hasn’t hit yet that season is coming to an end and soccer is ending.”
Despite having an offensive resurgence and scoring at least one goal in five consecutive games, defensive mishaps have been the Gauchos’ main fault. In its last six games, the backline has been exploited for 15 goals. Hawaii (6-6-2 overall, 1-2 Big West) is coming off a split of two conference matches, a 2-0 victory over UC Riverside and a 1-0 loss to Cal State Fullerton in double overtime that snapped its 12 game home-winning streak. UCSB will try to take advantage of a tired Hawaii team that will have to fly to Los Angeles and then drive to Santa Barbara. In its last 19 road matches, the Rainbow Wahine have struggled, going 2-17 and is 1-5 on the road this season.
Condering the Rainbow Wahine rank third in the Big West in goals per game at 1.57, tiring Hawaii out could serve as a huge advantage.
“The fact we have them here at home really kind of helps us,” Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “They have to take a trip to the airport in Hawaii, they have to take a five hour flight and they have to drive two and half hours to get here from LAX. [We have to] try and take the game to them because they’re going to be tired with all the traveling.”
The Gauchos will then host the Matadors (5-4-4 overall, 2-1 Big West) on Sunday, who have played impressive soccer in their conference so far. The Matadors easily defeated UCR 3-1 in its last game and lost 1-0 in overtime to CSUF last Friday. However, CSUN will have to travel to Santa Barbara after playing a tough Cal Poly team on Friday.
“They’re having a great year … they have a couple great results; they’re coming here with two conference wins,” Stumpf said. “Luckily they have to play at Cal Poly on Friday so hopefully they have a hard time up there and come to us a little tired.”
UCSB’s offense will really need to kick into gear if the Gauchos want to give its seniors a win in its last game at Harder Stadium. The Matadors lead the league in goals against average at .64.
Kickoff for Friday’s match against Hawaii is set for 7 p.m. and at 1 p.m. Sunday versus CSUN.