A flair for the dramatic has put the UCSB women’s soccer team into the postseason playoffs for the first time since 2015. Two golden-goal victories — Jessica Clegg’s score defeating Sacramento State, 2-1, in the last minute of overtime, and Madeline Gibson stunning Cal, 3-2, with a lightning strike six minutes into overtime — set the tone early in the season.
“Maddie’s shot was one in 50,” Gaucho coach Paul Stumpf said of Gibson’s strike from the top of the penalty area that sailed under the crossbar. “The ball just bounced right for us that day. The soccer gods weren’t smiling on us the last couple years. Maybe we’ve earned some breaks.”
Gibson had no time to think when a defender deflected a ball to her feet. She just let it fly, and, unlike most such attempts that are fouled off like 100mph fastballs, it went deep into the net. “Getting that result was very special for all of us,” said Gibson, a senior midfielder. “That definitely sparked our momentum. We have the talent and the passion and the heart to do well. But soccer is one of those sports where anything can happen.”
UCSB’s women went 5-2-1 in the Big West regular season (12-6-1 overall), and every conference match was decided by one goal except for a 1-1 tie at Cal Poly. They finished second in the standings and will play at UC Irvine tonight (Thu., Nov. 1) in the conference tournament semifinals.
“It’s so nerve-racking,” Stumpf said. “You make two mistakes and you’re out of it.”
The Gauchos secured their place in the tournament by winning all three games in their last homestand. Junior forward Shaelan Murison’s improbable free kick with four seconds remaining gave them a 2-1 victory over Cal State Fullerton; Gibson scored another late game-winner in the 83rd minute to beat Hawai’i, 1-0; and Lynsee Voss, another junior, scored twice in a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Cal State Northridge.
The Gauchos have gotten goals out of 12 players, led by Murison with 10 scores. Junior goalkeeper Hanna DeWeese has come up with big saves.
“I feel like this year we have team chemistry,” Murison said. “It’s allowing everybody to do what they do best. It’s allowed me to get on the ball more, to create more, or finish what someone else creates.” Asked what quality has triggered her scoring surge, Murison said, “Having a short memory is good. Forgetting what you messed up on and moving onto the next opportunity — that’s big part of it.”
Stumpf observed that Murison’s commitment to fitness over the summer has made a big difference in her output. “Instead of getting 10 and 15 minutes in the last two years, now she’s on the field for 90 minutes,” the coach said. “She found out she’s one of the stronger kids in the weight room, and that made her feel good. Some kids never meet their potential because they don’t commit to the work.”
HOME, SWEET HOME: In men’s soccer, UCSB retained its perfect record at home (9-0) by defeating Cal Poly last Saturday, 2-0, before a season-high crowd of 7,318 at Harder Stadium. French midfielder Thibault Candia set up both Gaucho goals in the second half, dishing the ball to Sahid Conteh and Kaya Fabbretti.
The Gauchos, 10-6-1 overall, were slated to host Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday night in the opening round of the Big West Tournament. They need a win to advance to Saturday’s semifinals at UC Riverside, where they suffered a 1-0 defeat on October 10. The Gauchos’ hopes of being invited to the NCAA tournament rest on their making it to the conference championship match, which will be at UC Irvine unless the Anteaters are upset in the semis.
COLLEGE CUP HOPEFULS: The Final Four match times of the NCAA Division 1 men’s soccer tournament at Harder Stadium are set: the semifinals (Fri., Dec. 7) at 5 and 7:30 p.m., and the final (Sun., Dec. 9) at 5 p.m.
Barring a surprise like the Gauchos’ appearances in 2004 and 2006, when they won the national title, UCSB will be rolling out the green carpet to some high-profile programs. The NCAA released this top 10 ranking on Sunday: (1) Wake Forest, (2) Indiana, (3) North Carolina, (4) Virginia, (5) Kentucky, (6) Notre Dame, (7) St. Mary’s (Calif)., (8) Virginia Tech, (9) Louisville, (10) Duke. Those schools are also strong in basketball, the big moneymaker in college sports, and all but St. Mary’s hail from power (i.e., big-time football) conferences.
ROUND TABLE HALL: Seven athletes were inducted into the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Hall of Fame on Monday at La Cumbre Country Club: Jennifer Rehage Allen, a three-sport star at Dos Pueblos High; Dylan Axelrod, a Santa Barbara High pitcher who played five seasons in the major leagues; Adrienne Binder Brown, a San Marcos swimmer who won an NCAA title at Auburn University; Mike Falberg, Santa Barbara High tennis phenom who won the U.S. Open junior championship; Mike Giusto, who never lost a league tennis match at Carpinteria High and was an All-American at Cal Poly; Jeff Nelson, an all-leaguer in basketball and baseball at San Marcos who also played at Cal Poly; and Kaylene Wagner, a Dos Pueblos high jumper who competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials. Falberg was honored posthumously.
Also honored were retired coaches Doug Mitchell, who guided the Dos Pueblos girls’ golf team to consecutive CIF championships; and Gregg Wilson, whose UCSB swimming teams collected 36 Big West team titles in 40 years.
WORLD SERIES: Sweaty hats off to the Boston Red Sox, who proved their superiority over the Dodgers in five games, even though L.A. took the marathon title away from them by prevailing in the grueling two-day, 18-inning affair that was Game 3. Too bad it didn’t count for two wins.