The UC Santa Barbara women’s soccer team’s 2023 conference opener came to a disappointing end as they fell to the California Polytechnic State University Mustangs 3-1. The game was the beginning of the UCSB Soccer Hispanic Heritage Celebration, a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month which began on Sept. 15. With the loss to their conference rival, the Gauchos are now 0-1 in the Big West Conference after a 2-2-4 start to begin the season. Cal Poly improved to 2-3-2 with the victory over the Gauchos. After a scoreless first half, UCSB fell apart defensively as they gave up 3 second-half goals.

A UCSB player takes a shot at the goal. NEXUS FILE PHOTO

The first half was the Gauchos’ most successful of the night but they were unable to capitalize and score any goals. The Gauchos had possession for the majority of the half and outshot the Mustangs 4-2. The strongest chances were 2 shots from senior midfielder Lauren Helwig and one from freshman forward Stella Etcheverry. However, the Mustang goalkeeper only needed to make one save in the half, just as UCSB senior goalkeeper Taylor Little did. 

After halftime, the Mustangs quickly took over the game. Just before minute 54, Cal Poly went up 1-0 due to a successful passing attack that led to an easy goal. After this goal, momentum completely swung in the Mustangs’ favor as UCSB gave up two more goals in the next 20 minutes. However, as the game got out of hand for UCSB, the team continued to fight. 

Right before minute 80, freshman forward Olivia Howard found the back of the net after a saved shot from Helwig led to an open rebound. This was the only offense of the night for the Gauchos, as they were unable to score another goal in the final 10 minutes and lost by a score of 3-1.