Sunday, August 31, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. (PDT)
UC Santa Barbara at Cincinnati
At Cincinnati's Gettler Stadium
Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at Stanford
At Stanford's Cagan Stadium
The UCSB women's soccer team had the ideal start to their regular season last weekend as it defeated Cleveland State (3-0) and Southern Utah (2-0) at home. The last time the Gauchos opened the season 2-0 was in 2010 when they actually opened with a perfect 3-0 mark.
Three of the Gauchos first four opponents have one thing in common: they hail from the state of Ohio. The opening match against Cleveland State was UCSB's first-ever against the Vikings, and the Aug. 29 contest against the University of Dayton will be a first. As for Cincinnati, the Gauchos have a perfect 3-0-0 mark against the Bearcats, including a 1-0 victory in 2014.
First Week Honors
In the first week of regular season play, goalkeeper Beth Ritter earned Big West Defensive Player of the Week honors. The junior held both opponents scoreless, saving all three opposing shots on goal and coming off her line to squelch several other opportunities. Ritter was named Preseason All-Big West by College Sports Madness and in the first week of the campaign she lived up to the lofty recognition.
Senior midfielder Indiana Mead and freshman forward Amanda Ball seem to have found an early connection. The duo has paced the team to its outstanding offensive start, combining for three of the team's five goals, 15 of its 34 overall shots and eight of its 15 shots on goal. Ball has two goals in as many matches and they were both game-winners. She is the first freshman to score goals in her first two career appearances since Jennifer Borcich did so back in 2001. Mead tallied an unassisted goal in the opener against Cleveland State and then assisted on Ball's goal in the win over Southern Utah.
What Offensive Woes?
The lack of offensive explosion appears to be a thing of the past for the Gauchos. In only two games, UCSB has already taken 34 total shots, including 15 on goal. Meanwhile, opponents have been limited to a mere nine shots and three shots on frame.
Ritter's Ratio Isn't Bad
Junior goalkeeper Beth Ritter logged back-to-back shutouts in the first weekend of the season. In her 17 career starts, the Danville, Calif. native has now posted 10 shutouts, or 58.8 percent. Her goals against average of 0.77 last season was the third lowest in school history and with two shutouts in her first two appearances this season, she has lowered her career goals against average to 0.64, a figure that would be the lowest in school history.
Call Her Francis, Not Psycho
Sorry about that title. It is derived from one of the funnier lines in the 1981 Bill Murray comedy entitled Stripes. Anyway, UCSB's Savannah Francis battled injuries as a freshman in 2012, emerged somewhat as a sophomore and, based on her first two games as a junior, seems ready to emerge even more. Francis played in both of the team's first two contests, scoring a goal against Southern Utah and assisting on Brittney McKinney's goal in the opener against Cleveland State.
UCSB has played seven freshmen in its first two games. Forward Amanda Ball and defenders Chace Schonstein and Calah Simarago each started both matches, while Brittney McKinney, Zoe Purcell, Kate Shoemaker and Jordan Alves have come off the bench. McKinney made the most of her appearance in the opener against Cleveland State, scoring the team's third goal.
Coach Paul Stumpf's 16th season with the Gauchos is exactly what he was hoping for during the preseason. As he promised, his team has improved their offensive play and kept a strong defense that has been tough on opponents to beat. Stumpf continues to improve his all-time leading record with UCSB, which is now at 139-127-34.
Following its three-game road trip to Ohio and Palo Alto, UCSB will return to Harder Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 7 for a 6:00 p.m. match against Loyola Marymount.