The UCSB women’s soccer team will take on Duquesne this Sunday as it looks forward to its last match before conference play begins.

Following their dominant 6-1 victory over Pacific last weekend, the Gauchos enter Sunday’s game with an overall record of 5-3-2. Duquesne currently sits at 3-3-2 after coming off a 2-0 loss to Georgetown on Sunday.

“We are fit and play a very nice style of soccer where we possess the ball around 60 percent of the time,” Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “We don’t know much about Duquesne, but we will work on playing very quick and getting to that final ball.”

The Gauchos seem to be finding their groove at the perfect time as the squad has won three consecutive games, including back-to-back wins on the road.
Both offense and defense look sharp as they have outscored their opponents 10-1 during this win streak.

The Gaucho defense, led by junior goalkeeper Beth Ritter, has been stellar. Ritter is currently posting a goals against average (GAA) of only 0.76 this season, compared to 0.87 last season, and has compiled a total of 27 saves. With a strong core of defenders to couple Ritter’s play, the UCSB women’s soccer team has notched five shutouts in only 10 games.

“So far we have been really happy that we have been heading uphill on our journey to conference,” Ritter said. “We need to keep proving to ourselves that we can score goals.”

With an impressive scoring outburst this past weekend, the Gauchos have improved their goals per game to 1.8 on the season. Junior midfielder/forward Angelisa Cortez has led this scoring attack with three goals and three assists over the past three games.

It will certainly be a challenge for the Gauchos to keep up their blistering scoring pace however, as Duquesne enters this contest with a very stubborn defense of its own.

Senior goalkeeper Devon Tabata has only allowed six goals this season and posts a GAA of 0.79. This is due in large part to an impressive 33 saves over only seven games. Just as the Gauchos, the defense for Duquesne has also produced five shutouts.

On the other side, Duquesne’s offense has struggled this season as they have scored only nine goals and have a shot percentage of just .098. Sophomore midfielder Maddie Layman has been a bright spot though, as she leads the team with three goals and a shot percentage of .231.

With all signs pointing to this being a highly defensive battle, the Gauchos do have one key advantage working in their favor. The UCSB women’s soccer team will have had an entire seven days to prepare for this match, compared to only two for Duquesne.

“I think [the rest] is definitely an advantage,” Ritter said. “We can get in a few more sessions and focus on the recovery and maintenance of our bodies.”

The match will kick off this Sunday at Harder Stadium at 1 p.m.

A version of this article appeared on page 7 of September 25, 2014th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.