These Gauchos are getting repetitive (in a good way)

The UCSB women's club soccer team

The hardest thing for any championship team to do is repeat. Yet the UCSB women’s club soccer team is making repeating a habit.

The Gauchos, who have won the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) National Championship the last three years in a row, are heading to Phoenix this weekend in search of their fourth consecutive national title.

The UCSB women begin their campaign against Virginia Tech at 8 a.m. Thursday morning, which promises to be a tough contest for the Gauchos. That same night the team faces the College of New Jersey at 6:30 p.m.


The Gauchos finished their season undefeated with a record of 13-0-1. Their season record and a first place finish at the West Coast Soccer Association (WCSA) Regional Tournament at Cal Poly secured an automatic bid to the national tournament.

During the regional tournament the Gauchos scored seven goals without conceding one. Of the seven goals scored, junior forward Laura Capparilli tallied four of them. For the season, Capparilli has logged a total of 15 goals and five assists.

“She’s a goal scorer, she knows how to find her way in the 18, and she is someone we really lean on to get us goals,” said head coach Todd Heil.

Along with the team’s young talent, eight returning seniors contribute consistency and leadership. Four of the seniors have played for the team throughout their entire college careers and have the chance of winning a national championship every year.

“The seniors have a very important role on the team because we must teach the younger players what it means to win nationals. When we were freshmen, we were taught to play for each other,” said senior defender Ally Chow.

The NIRSA National Championship is a contest unlike any other for soccer players. In order to advance all the way to the finals, a team needs to play six games in three days. The tournament tests a team’s fitness, roster depth, and mental toughness.

“As soon as you step onto those fields, you can feel the tension in the air. You can see the other teams practicing or warming up and they look just as determined,” Chow said. “It makes you want the win even more because we have a big title to defend. It is painful to play so many games in only a few days because our bodies can only take so much. By the last two or three games I feel that all of us are running on pure adrenaline. Injuries may occur but our team somehow fights through all of it in order to secure our title.”

Competing in such a grueling competition requires extensive mental and physical preparation.

The UCSB women’s club soccer team has been training since the regional tournament with an emphasis on conditioning, small-sided games, and shooting.

Heil realizes that the team is entering the tournament with a target on their back, but feels that his group of girls is prepared to compete at a high level.

“This year the girls are much more focused and much more passionate every game,” said Heil.

The UCSB women’s club soccer team is the only team in college club soccer history to win three national championships consecutively. UCSB, Michigan, and the University of Colorado are the only schools that hold three national titles.

Heil is hopeful for a fourth national title because it would place the team in a class of its own.