Jessica Clegg pushes the ball forward. Christina DeMarzo/Daily Nexus

Jessica Clegg pushes the ball forward. Christina DeMarzo/Daily Nexus

In a playoff rematch featuring two of the top squads in the Big West, the UCSB women’s soccer team fell short of its championship hopes in a 4-2-road loss to Cal State Fullerton.

Three goals from senior midfielder Christina Burkenroad were the deciding factor in the Titans victory. The San Diego native scored in the 10th, 47th, and 63rd minutes, registering her first career hat trick and giving Fullerton its 15th win of the season.

Participating in their first Big West Tournament since 2009, the Gauchos finish the year with an overall record of 13-6-1 and a conference record of 6-3. This is UCSB’s first ten-win season since 2008. The Titans improve to 15-3-1 overall and 7-3 in the Big West.

Fullerton came out swinging in the first half with Burkenroad’s goal the 11th minute. Senior forward Rebecca Wilson led Burkenroad down the field resulting in a chip shot past senior goalkeeper Beth Ritter, giving her team the early 1-0 lead.

The Gauchos quickly responded by scoring a goal in the 18th minute off a breakaway from sophomore forward Amanda Ball. Ball split her defenders and scored on an unassisted goal launching a shot into the back left of the net.

The Chino Hills forward netted three goals in her final three games, the first being a game-winner in the Gauchos’ 1-0 victory over Fullerton last Tuesday. Ball has recorded all of her five goals on the year after missing eight games due to injury.

Following Ball’s score the freshmen duo of Sydney Magnin and Maddie Gibson connected on a goal of their own. Magnin put Gibson in scoring position off a line drive touch pass. Making her way down the field, Gibson snuck the ball past Big West Keeper of the Year Jennifer Stuart into the back of the net.

The All-Big West Freshman broke the 1-1 bind and secured her team a 2-1 lead heading into the halftime break. Magnin and Gibson have been key assets to this young UCSB team recording six of the freshman’s 22 goals and 13 points for the year.

Opening up the second period it was the play of Burkenroad and Wilson that kept things in favor for the Titans. The senior veterans took control of the half with a goal from Burkenroad in the 47th and 63rd minute.

Big West Offensive Player of the Year Rebecca Wilson tallied in her second and third assists on the night setting up Burkenroad yet again for two easy scores and the 3-2 advantage.

With momentum on their side, the Titans sealed the deal off an insurance kick from midfielder Connie Caliz. The redshirt sophomore made her moment in front of goal count, registering her third goal of the season. Fullerton preserved their comfortable lead after that point keeping its playoff hopes alive with a 4-2 victory.

Despite a high-charged attack from Fullerton, Santa Barbara had an efficient outing on offense as well. The Gauchos outshot the Titans 12-10 in shots on goal and 3-1 in corner kicks. While UCSB had many chances in front of goal it was unable to capitalize.

Despite an unfortunate end to the year, there is nowhere to go but up for this young team. The Gauchos have exceeded expectations for the season after being projected to finish sixth in the Big West.

As seniors Beth Ritter, Angelisa Cortez, and Savannah Francis end their collegiate careers at UCSB their roles will be handed down to their 19 underclassmen. Gaining valuable experience from a tough nonconference schedule, rigorous conference play, and this Big West Tournament, the Gauchos will look to build on their successful year next season.