Sophomore forward Amanda Ball striking for the goal. Dustin Harris/Daily Nexus

Sophomore forward Amanda Ball striking for the goal.
Dustin Harris/Daily Nexus

Coming off an 8-9-2 season with a conference record of 2-6, the UCSB women’s soccer team has learned from last year’s mistakes and are ready to turn a new page. A team stacked with 18 returning upper classmen, the Gauchos are ready for the challenge and look to take it to their conference opponents.

“Passion, accountability, and commitment,” Head Coach Paul Stumpf said when asked what the core values of his women’s soccer team are. Heading into his 17th season at UCSB, Stumpf could not be more excited for this young talented crew and their chances in the Big West this year.

With a tough non-conference schedule lined up and Big West competition around the corner, Stumpf believes his team’s values will be the key to their success this season.

“I feel like this team is going to be defined by [these traits]”, Stumpf said. “Our team chemistry has exceeded others in the past couple years and the quality of our soccer is good enough to win games.”

After losing two consecutive games on the road at Saint Mary’s and USF, Stumpf does not see UCSB’s 0-2 start as a signal of a losing year.

“We completely dominated possession and shots in our first game and we lost two to nothing. I don’t expect that to happen in the future,” Stumpf said.

Despite being held scoreless in their last two defeats, the Gauchos have worked out their kinks in practice and are using their losses as motivation for their matchup against San Jose State this Friday.

“One thing to take out of those losses is we didn’t score a goal in 180 minutes,” Stumpf said. “We’re facing a very good San Jose State team and this is going to be a game where we will get a few opportunities at the box. We’re looking for someone who can come up with one special moment in front of the goal.”

The Spartans head into Harder Stadium with a 1-1 overall record. Although SJSU is a non-conference opponent, Stumpf believes these matches are exactly what UCSB needs in preparation for the team’s in-conference games.

“We felt like getting a diverse group of coaching styles in the non-conference would help us with all the different styles we are going to see in the Big West,” Stumpf said.

As far as players on the team, Stumpf anticipates an identity to be established in the front line, especially from sophomore forward Amanda Ball.

“Amanda has some great athleticism to her and is a very explosive player,” Stumpf said. “She’s had a couple lingering injuries that hindered her training, but we’re slowly but surely opening up her minutes and making her game fit.”

As a freshman, Ball stepped up and started seven games for the Gauchos scoring two game-winning goals. She was the offensive anchor last Sunday, breaking down USF defenders and taking four of the Gauchos’ five shot attempts.

Other notables include junior midfielder Sara Feder and senior forward Angelisa Cortez.

Coming off a knee injury her sophomore year, Feder hit the ground running during her redshirt season starting 15 matches for the Gauchos and scoring a team-high five goals. The Colorado native earned recognition for her play by earning Honorable Mention All-Big West honors.

In her final season in a blue and gold uniform, Cortez hopes her impressive play from last season can carry on to the field this year. Cortez tied for a team-high five goals and 13 points in her junior year.

UCSB will host its first non-conference game in Harder Stadium against San Jose State this Friday, August 28th. Tip off begins at 5 p.m. so make sure to cheer on our women’s soccer team as it hopes to earn its first victory of the 2015 season.