Although its week started off with a promising 1-0 victory at Davis, the UCSB women’s soccer had its Big West tournament aspirations come to an end on Sunday in its loss to CSU Fullerton.
The almost pulled off a complete role-reversal in those two games, fighting to maintain a 1-0 lead in the first game and desperately trying to find a goal in their eventual 1-0 loss to the Titans.
In Thursday’s 1-0 win against UC Davis, the Gauchos went up early and never looked back, leading to a second consecutive victory for the sixth-ranked squad and at the time keeping their Big West tournament dreams very much alive.
Davis came into the game as one of the only undefeated teams left in the conference and were certainly favorites playing at home against a UCSB team that at that point had only one win in its last five games. It was the Gauchos who came out looking like the top ranked team however, as freshman midfielder Christine Maurer headed home a perfectly placed cross by Mallory Hromatko in the seventh minute to give them the 1-0 lead. That lead was almost doubled a few minutes later when sophomore Colby Parker sent in a corner kick that clanked off a few players and into the net, yet the goal was called back because of a foul on the goalie.
The rest of the first half was marked by a flurry of shots by the Gauchos which couldn’t quite find home, yet continued to put enough pressure on the Aggies so that they couldn’t get into any sort of offensive rhythm.
Davis came out stronger in the second half, a pattern which they have followed all year, yet UCSB maintained the same physicality and energy that they came out of the gates with. Even though the Aggies tripled the amount of shots they took compared to the first half and had five more corner kicks than the Gauchos, UCSB still finished with more shots and more quality shots at that.
Having taken care of business Thursday night, the Gauchos moved on to what they hoped was the next step to a Big West tournament and faced off against Cal State Fullerton. Although the Titans were ranked below UCSB and Davis in the Big West standings, they actually had the best record overall in the conference and were certainly the Gauchos biggest test up to that point.
The Titans struck first when redshirt senior Connie Caliz knocked in a well-placed corner kick by forward Atlanta Primus. The rest of the first half played out in their favor as Maddie Julian had to make a few great saves for the Gauchos just to keep the margin to one.
UCSB was never able to close that gap however as the offense stalled even more as the game went on. Opportunities by Sydney Magnin and Madeline Gibson offered moments of hope but it seemed like too much energy went to the stellar defense they played which left them drained on the attack.
Looking ahead to next Sunday the Gauchos will be playing their season finale at Harder Stadium. Although the loss to Fullerton knocked UCSB down to eighth place in the Big West, their upcoming matchup against Cal Poly will be both an opportunity to beat their rivals and climb up to as far as fifth in the conference standings. Regardless of whether they can achieve a playoff berth or not the Gauchos will surely come out strong in the last game of the season.