Siavash Ghadiri / The Daily Nexus

The UC Santa Barbara women’s soccer team will host Long Beach State this Sunday to open up conference play, as they look to improve upon their 4-3-3 record. Santa Barbara is coming off a win against CSU Bakersfield where the ‘Chos were able to blank the Roadrunners and win by a commanding three goals.

Long Beach State has struggled early on this season. The 49ers enter this game with an overall record of 2-7. In the most recent matchup against BYU, Long Beach State was unable to find any sort of rhythm on the offensive end of the field as the team only mustered seven shots, with only two of them on goal. Moreover, their defense was unable to make the Cougars uncomfortable as the 49ers gave up three goals as well.

That being said, Long Beach State is still a very young team which consists of only three seniors. As the season goes on, the team will surely gain more chemistry and could potentially compete for the Big West title. Offensively, junior forward Kaylee Ramirez leads the way for the 49ers offensively with two goals on the year. Junior goalkeeper Marta Alemany Sanchez anchors the defense with a total of 29 saves and a save percentage of 74.4%.

Santa Barbara was able to win fairly comfortably against CSU Bakersfield last game as the Gauchos were able to keep the Roadrunners from finding the back of the net. Three different players were able to score a goal for UCSB, giving the team a lot of confidence heading into this upcoming matchup.

An extremely impressive statistic from the CSU Bakersfield game was the fact that senior goalkeeper Hanna DeWeese did not have to record a single save. With consistent pressure from Santa Barbara, the Roadrunners were not able to get behind the defense which allowed DeWeese to be extremely comfortable in front of the net. DeWeese has been one of the best players in the lineup as she now has five clean sheets on the year.

One of the main struggles that the Gauchos have had this season is an inability to find the back of the net consistently. Santa Barbara took a step in the right direction in their past game as senior forward Shaelan Murison was not the only player to score for UCSB. By having a couple players that can consistently score goals for the Gauchos, this will allow Murison to have more space in the penalty box without getting double teamed.

With their upcoming matchup against the 49ers, it will be crucial for the Gauchos to continue to keep everything in front of them on the defensive end. Much of their success this season has come from pressuring opposing teams into turnovers so the team can use them to get on the transition attack. By attacking in the transition, it allows the ‘Chos to attack opposing defenses while they are not set.

In order to ensure that the Gauchos can compete for the Big West title over the next couple of weeks, another important factor will be limiting the amount of fouls the team commits over the course of the game. When the team commits numerous fouls, primary in the first half, it tends to set the tone for the entire game, which leaves them unable to find a rhythm on both sides of the ball.

UCSB is back in action this Sunday against Long Beach State at home inside of Harder Stadium at 1 p.m., where the Gauchos will look to start conference play with a victory.