The random flight of a soccer ball can be exasperating to the people who play, coach, and watch the game. It would seem to be harder to strike the ball off the crossbar of the goal than into the eight vertical feet of space beneath it, but UCSB forward Nick DePuy has made that unlucky play numerous times. He did it Saturday night when the Gauchos dominated Cal Poly for 110 minutes, outshooting the Mustangs, 10-2, but had to settle for a 0-0 tie in front of the largest crowd (11,424) of the men’s college season. They still had a commanding lead in the Big West standings with two regular-season games to play, including a 2 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 30) match at home against UC Davis.
Last Sunday, outright cruelty was inflicted on UCSB’s women in their match at UC Irvine. They fired off 13 shots, but none of them found the net. Irvine took two shots, and one of them went in, for a 1-0 victory that damaged the Gauchos’ chances to appear in the conference tournament. They are in a three-way tie for fifth place and need to win both their remaining games — the home finale tonight (Thu., Oct. 27) against UC Davis and Sunday’s match at Long Beach State — to possibly get into the top four.
More disheartening than the defeat was the apparent season-ending injury suffered by Amanda Ball, UCSB’s leading scorer. Her right foot was planted when an Irvine player hit her with what she described as a clean tackle, resulting in probable torn ligaments in her ankle.
Ball’s absence will be felt by the Gauchos and their fans. Not only does she have a knack to score (10 goals), she also plays the game with a contagious joy. You’ll never see a player smile on the pitch more continually than the 5′5″ junior striker from Chino Hills.
“I have a really strong passion for soccer,” Ball said. “I’ve been playing since I was little, and I have the same feeling every single time I’m out there.”
Some of that passion was instilled by her grandmother, Jean Williams, who was born and raised in England. “She played soccer, and she’s a huge Chelsea fan,” Ball said. “I watched a lot of televised Chelsea games with her.”
Ball scored four goals, with a pair of overtime game-winners, as the Gaucho women opened their season with victories over Fresno State, 3-2, and St. Mary’s, 1-0.
“She’s so dynamic,” UCSB coach Paul Stumpf said. “She’s a soccer bum, somebody who has aspirations to play pro.”
The goals kept coming, including four by sophomore Mallory Hromatko, as UCSB entered Big West play with a 9-1-1 record. But in conference matches, the Gauchos have gone 2-3-1, with Ball scoring twice and Hromatko shut out.
“Because we did so well in our preseason, teams definitely heard about that and started to high-press us and break down our build up,” Ball said. As a result, Stumpf observed, “Amanda has had a lot of physicality thrown at her.”
If she’s done for this season, Ball said she’ll be looking forward to a comeback as a senior. Meanwhile, several Gaucho seniors will play their last home game on Thursday. Stumpf said they’ll especially miss center back Sydney Fuertes and attacking midfielder Dakota Griggs.
HIGH GOALS AT WESTMONT: Senior midfielder Brooke Lillywhite has been a scoring machine for the Westmont College women with 20 goals, including six game-winners. “She’s a leader,” said Warrior coach Chantel Cappuccilli. “The team sets her up well, and she’s hard to stop.”
Westmont is ranked No. 11 in the NAIA and hopes to start the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament at home on Friday, November 4. “It’s really exciting,” Cappuccilli said. “Our best soccer is yet to be played.”
FALL CLASSIC: Bill Pintard has reason to root for the Chicago Cubs. Early last year, Pintard mourned the death of Gary Woods, one of his best friends, who played for the Cubs in 1984. Pintard attended the last three games of that year’s National League Championship Series in San Diego. The Cubs needed one more win to end their World Series drought, but the Padres swept them. “Gary told me it was the only time he ever cried,” said Pintard, who later brought Woods on as the hitting coach of his Santa Barbara Foresters. “He’d never shed a tear until he cleaned out his locker.”
What most intrigues Pintard about the current World Series matchup between heretofore famished teams, the Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, is the quality of the two managers, Joe Maddon and Terry Francona. Expect them to be directing the action on the diamond with the verve of symphonic conductors Riccardo Muti and George Szell. “They’re both on top of the game,” Pintard said. “They know their teams inside and out.”
Dave Roberts did a marvelous job as rookie manager of the Dodgers this year, but play-off experience won out when Maddon’s Cubs took the NL prize. “Maddon took a less talented team [Tampa] to the Series [in 2008],” Pintard said. As for Francona, he was the dugout leader of the Boston Red Sox in 2004 when they came back from a three-game deficit against the Yankees and went on to their first World Series title since 1918.
“It’s going to be delightful to see what those guys are going to do,” Pintard said. “There’s no fear in the way they manage.” n
GAME OF THE WEEK
10/29: College Women’s Volleyball: Vanguard at Westmont With a 27-0 record through last week, Westmont was the only undefeated squad among 219 teams in the NAIA. The Warrior women have achieved their first No. 1 national volleyball ranking and are on track to break the school record of 28 wins. They could clinch the Golden State Athletic Conference championship Saturday in their final home match of the regular season. The NAIA tournament begins November 19. 7pm. Murchison Gym, Westmont College, 955 La Paz Rd. Free-$8. Call 565-6010.
S.B. ATHLETIC ROUND TABLE ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
Sawyer Rhodes, S.B. High water polo
After scoring 10 goals in a 13-9 victory over Ventura that clinched the Channel League title, the Santa Barbara senior poured in 10 more goals in a nonleague win over Esperanza.
Sienna Scibird, Bishop Diego golf
She won the Tri-Valley League individual title by shooting a 37 in the nine-hole first round at Oxnard’s River Ridge course, then carding a 78 in the 18-hole final round.