Gauchos follow through with fourth straight

The UCSB Women's Club Soccer team celebrates four NIRSA titles in Arizona.

PHOENIX, AZ – The UCSB women’s club soccer team made history this past weekend, placing the team in a class all its own.

The Gauchos became the first to win the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) national soccer tournament four times, while also establishing an unmatched stretch of dominance by doing it in four straight years.

“It feels great to be the first women’s team to win four national championships, not to mention four in a row,” said head coach Todd Heil with enthusiasm.

Heil expressed his satisfaction with the team’s performance throughout the season. He attributed the team’s success to three C’s: Consistency, Chemistry, and Commitment.

However, the road to a fourth national title was far from easy for the Gauchos. Both the players and Heil felt that they were playing each game with a target on their back. Every game was hard-fought with the opponents working hard to bring down the women’s club soccer powerhouse from Santa Barbara.

“It’s tough to go out there game in and game out knowing that the other team wants nothing less than to beat you,” said Heil.

The team faced its toughest opponent in the championship match against the University of Texas. Texas immediately put the Gauchos in unfamiliar territory by scoring the first goal of the match in the 16th minute. This was the first time that the UCSB women’s club soccer team had trailed another team the entire season.

The Gauchos did not let up and found an equalizer in the second half through sophomore midfielder Kelsey Mulcahy. The Gauchos kept up the attack but could not find the net in regulation or overtime, so the game would be decided by penalty kicks.

During the shootout, UCSB goalkeeper Taylor Thurman was able to save two shots. This allowed Natalie Lemonnier to score the winning goal as the sixth shooter for the Gauchos.

The Gauchos finish with an undefeated record of 19-0-1.

The entire tournament tested the team’s fitness, as they had to play a total of six matches. The Gauchos had to defeat Virginia Tech, College of New Jersey, Cornell, Florida, and Penn St. before meeting Texas in the Championship Division final.


“The girls were fit, and not only were they fit but they were excited about their fitness. When Texas was running out of gas, we just seemed to kick it up a notch,” said Heil.

Carolyn Upton, Natalie Lemonnier, and Laura Capparilli were named to the all-Tournament team. Tannia Hernandez was named MVP of the entire tournament. Also, Todd Heil gave much credit to the Gaucho center defenders Christina Keady and Nadia Zadeh who only allowed two goals during the tournament.

This fourth consecutive title is especially significant to four seniors on the team that have been present for every national championship: Ally Chow, Christina Beck, Tannia Hernandez, and Taylor Thurman. Heil said he looked to these girls during the tournament to act as leaders because of their experience in these high-pressure games.

Ally Chow identified the joys of that have come from her experience with UCSB club soccer after completing her final season.

“Club soccer has changed my entire college experience. I have lived with my club soccer teammates for two and a half years so far. They have become my best friends and I know for sure that I will be staying in contact with them in the future,” said Chow.