The beginning of the Lindsay Gottlieb era in UCSB women’s basketball and a climactic moment in the Gaucho men’s soccer season will coincide tonight (Wed., Nov. 5) at the university campus.
Gottlieb will launch her head coaching career when the Gaucho women face Westmont College’s Warriors in an exhibition game at the Thunderdome, and the soccer team will square off against Cal Poly at Harder Stadium with first place in the Big West Conference at stake.
Both games are set to begin at 7 p.m.
UCSB has been promoting an attempt to break the NCAA soccer attendance record of 12,224 at tonight’s match. That effort was prompted by Cal Poly’s turnout of more than 11,000 when the Gauchos defeated the Mustangs in San Luis Obispo last month. Harder Stadium has room for 17,000.
Fans are advised to arrive early for the games and follow signs directing them to the parking lots. There are parking tips on the UCSB athletic Web site.
The Gaucho women’s basketball team features a veteran cast of players but an entirely new coaching staff, headed by Gottlieb. The 31-year-old Cal assistant coach was hired to succeed Mark French, who retired from coaching after his 21st season at UCSB. The Gauchos went 23-8, their 18th straight winning season under French.
Three seniors will start for UCSB tonight guards Lauren Pedersen and Whitney Warren, and 6‘4” center Kat Suderman along with junior forward Jordan Franey and sophomore Ashlee Brown.
Gottlieb said she will be selective with the playing time of Jenna Green, another 6‘4” senior, who sat out last season with back problems. Green is a two-time All-Big West first team performer.
Westmont has four returning starters from a team that went 21-9 last season. Kirsten McKnight Moore is entering her fourth season as coach of the Warriors. They are led by a pair of junior guards, Amber Stevens and Jessica Case. Stevens, a graduate of Dos Pueblos High, was an honorable mention NAIA All-American. The 5‘7” point guard led her conference in steals and averaged 10.9 points per game.
The Gauchos are bigger and stronger, and they play at a higher level in the NCAA, but Gottlieb expects Westmont to give a good showing.
“They’re playing in the same, familiar system,” the UCSB coach said. “Everything is new to our players.”
Westmont has already competed against an NCAA Division I team. The Warriors played Pepperdine in an exhibition game last week and gave the Waves a battle before losing 61-47. The score was 24-20 at halftime.
Meanwhile, at the soccer stadium tonight, UCSB’s hopes of hosting games in the first Big West men’s tournament are on the line. Cal Poly (5-2-2) has a one-point lead over the Gauchos (5-2-1) in the conference standings. UCSB will conclude the regular season Saturday at UC Davis (4-2-3). Those three teams, as well as UC Irvine (3-1-4), all have a shot at the conference title. The champion will have home-field advantage throughout the four-team tournament next week.