Gauchos keep Warriors at bay in exhibition opener

UCSB's Sydney Fuertes keeps the ball away from Westmont's Kelsey Steck, left, and Sophie Fuller, right.

UCSB’s Sydney Fuertes keeps the ball away from Westmont’s Kelsey Steck, left, and Sophie Fuller, right.


Led by goals from Dakota Griggs and McKinsey Martinez the UCSB women’s soccer team defeated Westmont 2-0 in an exhibition Saturday night at Harder Stadium. It was the final exhibition matchup for both squads before they begin the regular season.

“Last year we dominated this game but tied 1-1. Tonight, we shut them out and controlled possession. Obviously I would have felt a little better if we had gotten a few more goals but we are in a good place right now,” said Gauchos head coach Paul Stumpf.

In the 4th minute, Geneve Dromensk delivered a beautiful corner kick that was put away by Griggs which gave UCSB an early 1-0 lead.

“Dakota rarely played in the middle last fall, however when we moved her there in the spring, she was an absolutely different player. Tonight her movement was very good and she got on the ball a lot. She is going to be real important for us moving forward,” added Stumpf.

The Gauchos dominated possession throughout the first half and created many scoring opportunities. Many of these chances were created by UCSB midfielder/forward Indiana Mead. The senior was selected to the Preseason All-Big West Conference Team.

When asked about expectations for the team this season, Mead replied: “last year we had a couple injuries which did not help our chances. This year we can take on any team in the Big West as long as we keep our mindset right and push forward.”

A group substitution took place in the 59th minute as four Gaucho starters were given an early rest. The Warriors quickly responded with a nice scoring opportunity on a long run from senior forward Kaci Mexico in the 60th minute.

From that point on, the game was played out more evenly as both teams traded possession and scoring chances until Martinez’s goal in the 78th minute. The sophomore midfielder scored off of a deflection in the box to put UCSB up for good at 2-0.

Corner kicks were a familiar theme for the Gauchos on the night, as they had eight opportunities in the first half alone and eleven overall.

“UCSB is a good side and we always love coming out here because it is a a learning experience for us. We have to continue to progress our play up the field and that is what we will look to grow on,” chipped in Westmont coach Kristi Kiely.

After a successful season last year in which they reached the NAIA National Championship Game, the Warriors look to continue the momentum this season.

“The hard thing is not to come into this season with too high of expectations. We have a lot of returning veterans who have played lots of minutes in big games. Nevertheless, we are not focused on looking too far ahead, but instead on getting better each day,” said Kiely.

Westmont starts their season at home against Trinity Western on Tuesday. On the other side, UCSB plays host to Cleveland State on Friday.