As the Gauchos’ rollercoaster season wraps up this weekend, UCSB looks to gain some crucial points with results in its final two games. Cal State Northridge visits Harder Stadium on Thursday evening for the Gauchos’ final home game of the season, and Santa Barbara will travel up to San Luis Obispo to close out the season with the annual Blue-Green Rivalry.
Santa Barbara (11-6, 4-2, 12 points) claims the sole third spot in the Big West following consecutive wins last weekend against Cal State Fullerton and Hawai‘i. Alternatively, the Matadors (6-7-1, 2-4, 6 points) have had their woes this year as the squad sits in the eighth spot in conference play just above Fullerton who is winless in Big West matchups.
CSUN enters Thursday’s matchup following losses in its last two matches against UC Irvine and UC Davis by respective scores of 3-0 and 1-0. Northridge burst out of the gate with a strong start to the season during road contests, but this is a different Matador team in conference play. They’ve struggled immensely on the road during Big West matchups as CSUN remains winless in conference away games.
The Matadors are 4-2-1 in away games this year, but each of those wins came during the former half of the season. Since Big West play began last month, Northridge has racked up a mere two wins, both of which came at home.
Northridge has 14 goals this season, tied with Cal Poly for the lowest in the Big West this season. If their scoring troubles weren’t problematic enough during the first half of the season, they’ve declined even more in conference play. Northridge averages .67 goals per game, No. 8 in the Big West.
The hosting Gauchos, on the other hand, boast a hearty 1.65 goals per match to CSUN’s 1.00 overall goals per match. Moreover, UCSB allows less than a goal a game at .92 goals allowed per match while the Matadors let by 1.3 goals per game which is the seventh highest mark in conference.
As for the Cal Poly Mustangs, they’ve allowed a bulky 2.06 goals per game while scoring only .78 goals in each match. The Mustangs (2-12-4, 2-4-1, 7 points) have picked up their sole two wins of the season during Big West play as they reside in the seventh spot of the standings. Poly recorded wins against CSUN in late September and winless Cal State Fullerton last weekend.
The Mustangs boast the top goal saver in the Big West conference with 107 saves, significantly more than the No. 2 keeper who has 80 stops.
However, that could be accredited to the astronomical amount of shots on goal she faces. Junior keeper Sophia Brown has faced roughly 147 shots on goal this year while no other goal keeper in the Big West has had to deal with even 100 shots on goal. Brown’s save percentage is a dainty .728, the second lowest in the conference.
The Matadors and the Mustangs will prepare to face junior keeper Hanna DeWeese, last week’s Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Week. DeWeese has been a staple for the Gauchos since her second-half heroics against UC Berkeley earlier this season. After coming off the bench in the second half, DeWeese’s shut out against then-No. 24 Cal earned her the starting gig and she’s been lights out ever since.
As for the attack, senior captain Shaelan Murison has 10 goals this season for the second most in the Big West with five game winners on the year. Her counterpart Mallory Hromatko is No. 1 in assists this year with six, however she’s slowed down come conference play as most of the assists came early in the season.
Shaelan Murison and the Gauchos (11-6, 4-2) host Cal State Northridge (6-7-1, 2-4) on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. before culminating the 2018 season on Sunday afternoon in San Luis Obispo against the Cal Poly Mustangs (2-12-4, 2-4-1) at 2 p.m..