After splitting its road games last week, the UCSB women’s soccer team will stay at home to play UC Riverside this Friday before traveling to Cal State Fullerton on Sunday, in what is the team’s second-to-last week of conference play remaining.
Santa Barbara comes into the weekend’s matches with an overall record of 8-6-1 and 2-2 in the Big West conference. The eight wins are the most the program has had since the 2010 season, with the two conference victories already matching its total from last year.
UCR, at 6-8-1 overall and 3-1 in conference is currently tied in first place in the conference, one game ahead of the Gauchos while CSUF enters at 6-4-4 overall and 1-1-1 in league.
With four games remaining in the schedule and only four spots available for the Big West Tournament, UCSB will need to earn results in each game to stay in contention for postseason play.
Sophomore goalkeeper Beth Ritter has emerged as the most reliable player for UCSB this season. Taking over the starting position at the beginning of the season, Ritter has amassed seven shutouts, the most in the Big West. The eight combined shutouts this year rank fifth in program history for a single season and the most since 2008.
Although Ritter has been one of the hottest goalkeepers, the Gauchos will encounter goalies just as impressive this weekend. Both Riverside’s and Fullerton’s goalkeepers rank in the top three in save percentage and shutouts.
UC Riverside suffered its first conference loss last week against UC Irvine by a 2-0 margin. Prior to that the Highlanders had outscored its opponents 5-1 in two league matches with much of the success due in large part to sophomore goalkeeper Elizabeth Silas who ranks fourth in the Big West in total saves (73). Silas has allowed only three goals in the last four games and has emerged as an elite goalkeeper in the Big West.
After playing UC Riverside, Santa Barbara travels south to Fullerton for another conference challenge. Fullerton’s goalkeeper, senior Lindsey Maricic ranks first in save percentage and total saves so far this season, being a deciding factor in the two games the Titans have earned results in.
Aside from Maricic on the defensive side of the ball, UCSB will also have to take into account senior midfielder/forward Erica Mazeau. Mazeau has played both her positions well this season, leading the team in goals with three and assists with four.
Santa Barbara’s defense has been the team’s backbone, however, the team has become a threat offensively. Junior midfielder Madison Beckley leads the team with five goals, ranking third in the league and sophomore forward Angelisa Cortez has notched three goals of her own for the team.
Kick-off for Friday’s game against UC Riverside is scheduled for 7 p.m. and Sunday’s match versus Cal State Fullerton will begin at 6 p.m.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of October 17th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Magali Gauthier of the Daily Nexus.