With four conference matches remaining before the start of the Big West Tournament, the UCSB women’s soccer team will head out on its final road trip of the regular season this weekend.
The pair of games will begin on Friday when the Gauchos face the UC Riverside Highlanders.
Wrapping up the UCSB’s weekend will be its matchup against UC Irvine on Sunday.
The Highlanders have had an underwhelming season to say the least as they currently stand at 3-10-3 overall and winless in conference play at 0-5.
Sitting in last place of the Big West standings, UCR has been unable to overcome its losing woes as a result of its current streak of eight consecutive losses.
While Friday’s match seems like it should be an effortless victory for the Gauchos, they should consider the Highlanders’ recent near upset.
Among Riverside’s losses last weekend was a 1-0 thriller to the Big West’s current first-place team of CSUN.
The Highlanders are led by senior forward Tayler Dragoo. She stands as the team leader in goals with four on the year, shots with 32 and shots on goal with 14.
Senior midfielder Sammy Arellano has three assists on the year to lead her team.
UCSB will come into the weekend series boasting a 3-1-2 record in its last six games, including a very deflating 1-0 loss to CSUN in overtime.
Even with the loss, the Gauchos’ defense came up strong once again.
Sophomore goalie Brittney Rogers has been stellar all year long. She has only allowed six goals in 13 games and has logged 35 saves and six shutouts on the year.
Senior keeper Jacq Caginia has also contributed nicely in goal with seven saves.
Rogers and Caginia, together with starting defenders Kate Shoemaker, Sydney Fuentes and Ryan Kokoska and mid-fielders Maddie Gibson and Dakota Griggs have been the defensive backbone of the team’s success all year.
On offense the Gauchos are stocked with talent led by junior forward Amanda Ball who leads the team with 10 goals, 48 shots and a stellar 27 shots on goal.
Sophomore forward Mallory Hromatko and freshman forward/mid Shaelan Murison have contributed four goals each. Maddie Gibson leads the team with five assists.
The Anteaters are led by superstar junior forward Kiana Palacios. Palacios has dominated Big West play all year, and the Gauchos would be wise to have her constantly marked up throughout the game.
Even still, it will be difficult to keep her out of the net as she leads her team with nine goals and five assists.
Palacios also leads her team with four game-winning goals and is 1-1 on penalty kicks.
Moreover, she has taken a team high 50 shots this year with an incredible 25 shots on goal.
Junior goalie Maddie Newsom has 40 saves and seven shutouts this season.
UCSB has been dominant for most of the year and despite not living up to conference play early on, it is eager to turn up its level of play in the last two weeks before the Big West tournament is set to start.
The Gauchos will face the Highlanders on Friday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. at the UC Riverside Soccer Stadium.
They then go back on the road to face-off against Anteaters on Sunday, Oct. 23, at 2 p.m. at Anteater Stadium.