It didn’t take too long for UC Irvine to pull ahead on Sunday, 3 minutes and 17 seconds to be exact, and they never looked back handing the UCSB women’s soccer squad its second straight loss to begin conference play.
The Gauchos had a rough first weekend of conference play, losing both games at Harder Stadium by a combined score of 8-2 and falling to last place in the Big West with a 0-2 conference record and a 4-6-3 overall record.
The Anteaters are now 7-3-3 on the season and jumped to first place in the Big West with the win which brought their conference record up to 2-0.
Momentum is a major factor in any soccer game, and the Gauchos for the second game in a row relinquished momentum very early on. Irvine came out of the gates with an aggressive mentality that UCSB was not able to match, and it was redshirt senior Noel Baham who started the scoring off for the Anteaters with a header off of a beautifully placed cross by freshman forward Sydney Carr.
Both Carr and Baham would play huge parts in the game, with the former scoring two goals and notching an assist while the latter got two assists to go with her goal. Carr, who won the first Big West offensive player of the week award after the game, scored the second goal of the game off of a cross from Baham to put UCI up 2-0 at halftime.
The Gauchos did start off better in the second half, and their increased intensity led to a goal in the 60th minute by forward Christine Maurer. The freshman, who has four goals and one assist on the year, snuck through the back line of the defense and was able to score off of a cross from midfielder Shaelan Murison.
UCSB was not able to build off that goal however as three minutes later the Anteaters widened the gap to two yet again off of an easy goal for freshman Claire Grouwinkel.
The Gauchos answered with a flurry of shots and corner kicks, however, none found their mark, and by the time Sydney Carr scored a goal directly off of a corner to put UCI up 4-1 the game had already been all but over.
Much like the Riverside game before, the Gauchos actually kept up on the offensive end with the Anteaters. Irvine only had one more shot than UCSB and UCSB actually had more corner kicks.
What separated the two teams was both the quality of shots that they got and the Gauchos inability to take advantage of the opportunities they created. The fact the UCSB created those opportunities in the first place is a good sign, especially against the top-ranked team in the conference, but they’re going to have to finish if they want to win.
The key to making sure that a loss like the one that happened on Sunday doesn’t happen again will be taking advantage of all the opportunities they get.
The Gauchos next match is against Cal State Northridge Thursday, October 5 at 4 p.m.