After two and a half months of disappointing but resilient play, the UCSB women’s soccer team will conclude its season this Sunday against rival Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. In a season marked by unlucky stretches of play and unfortunate injuries to key players, the Gauchos can still salvage a win for their seniors and end the season on a high note as they look forward to next year.
“We want to come off for a win for next season and plus we just want to reward ourselves for how well we’ve been playing lately,” sophomore midfielder Indiana Mead said. “We want to make sure we get the third win and make sure that our ranking is still pretty good … We want to work really hard and come off with a positive note for the season.”
UC Santa Barbara enters its final match with an overall record of 5-10- 2 and is in a tie for seventh place with UC Davis in the Big West with a 2-5-1 conference record. UCSB was eliminated from the playoffs after losing to UC Riverside last Sunday. Meanwhile, with 17 points earned against conference opponents this season, the Mustangs are in first place in the league with an overall record of 8-6-3 and 5-1-2 in conference.
Coming off its first conference loss against Cal State Fullerton and earning a draw against UCR, the Mustangs will try to rebound against the Gauchos. Despite being in first place, Cal Poly still has not mathematically qualified for a spot in the Big West Tournament and the Gauchos will look to play spoiler, as a loss could endanger the Mustang’s chances of competing in the postseason.
“They do play a system where there are some pluses and minuses for us and against us, so we’re going to do everything we can to play to our strengths and avoid those weaknesses,”
Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “It’d be great [to win]. They’re our closest rival, the schools are very similar — we recruit a lot of the same players. You always want to beat your cross town rival.”
A huge reason Cal Poly is in position to capture its first Big West title since 2009 is freshman goalkeeper Alyssa Giannetti, who leads the conference with 6.65 saves per game and 113 overall saves. Santa Barbara plans on creating havoc in the box for Giannetti after scoring four goals against Fullerton and outshooting Riverside 13-5 in last weekend’s matches.
“We’re going to look up some game film and we’re going to come up with a system and style that is best going to suit us to have more of the ball,” Stumpf said. “Because of that, [hopefully we will] get some momentum and get more looks at the goal and hopefully stick them away.”
Containing the Cal Poly offense will be a difficult task for Santa Barbara as the Mustangs enter with the No. 1 ranked offense in the league, scoring a conference-high 1.88 goals per game and 19 goals in total. Stopping freshman forward Elise Krieghoff will be top priority for the Gaucho’s backline. Krieghoff has top rank in the Big West in goals scored with 10 on the season.
Despite having to settle for a record under .500, the Gauchos are still proud of what they have accomplished this season.
“I think that our entire season we played really well; our record doesn’t show how hard we worked,” Mead said. “I’m really proud of the whole effort everyone has put in and just coming together as a team. It has been a very awesome year even though the record doesn’t show it.”
Kickoff for Sunday’s Blue-Green rivalry match is set for 2 p.m.