The UCSB women’s soccer team seems optimistic as it kicks off the preseason tomorrow by hosting Westmont.
In the 2013 season, the Gauchos finished with an overall record of 9-9-1 and a conference record of 3-5. Westmont finished 2013 with an impressive regular season record of 14-0-3 before going on to lose in the NAIA National Championship by a score of 1-0.
For UCSB, eyes will be on senior forward/midfielder Indiana Mead as she was recently selected to the Preseason All-Big West Conference Team by the conference’s coaches. Mead was hampered by injuries and was forced to miss the last four games of the 2013 season, but with a total of seven goals and four assists throughout her UCSB tenure, expectations will be riding high.
“We are really hoping for a win,” Mead said. “We have been putting in a ton of work to play hard and I think we have more of a winning spirit this year.”
Another pivotal element that returns to the Gauchos this season is junior goalkeeper Beth Ritter. Ritter played in 16 games during the 2013 season, allowing only 12 goals and saving an impressive 82.6 percent of shots.
“We expect a solid defensive performance with a shutout this game,” Ritter said. “We are really excited to build upon what we did last year.”
With such impressive goalkeeping, UCSB will look to their offense to play a huge factor in adding wins. Senior Madison Beckley will be a crucial offensive weapon as she tied for the team lead in goals last season with five. Junior Angelisa Cortez and sophomore Morgan Idso will also look to make a big impact as they recorded a combined 5 goals and two assists in 2013.
The Gauchos’ offense will have to be ready to take full advantage as Westmont comes into this exhibition with a relatively inexperienced goalkeeper in junior Lauren Dorr. Dorr faced a total of only seven shots last year and has only started one game in her Westmont career.
However, this match won’t be anything to take lightly as Westmont possesses a trio of returning strikers that combined for a total of 18 goals and seven assists last season. Junior forward Kelsey Steck led the team with eight goals and one assist in the 2013 season as Westmont managed to outscore their opponents by a tally of 51 to 13.
Following the loss of three top defenders after the 2013 season, the Gauchos will look to their younger players to step up and stop this high-powered Westmont offense. Leading the defensive core will be senior center back Miranda Cornejo who started 13 games last season.
“A big change this year is that we have a deep bench with the addition of 10 new freshman,” Ritter said. “This will be key to winning more games because if somebody gets hurt then our bench will be able to step up.”
The exhibition is set to kick off tomorrow at Harder Stadium at 7 P.M.