WWP: Gauchos snap skid going into Big West tourney

No. 15 UCSB defeated No. 11 Long Beach State by a score of 8-7 on Senior Day, as the Gauchos’ consistent scoring kept them ahead for the entire match. The victory not only ended the regular season on a high note, but it also clinched UCSB the fourth seed in next weekend’s Big West Tournament.

Samantha Murphy led the way for Santa Barbara with three goals. Taylor Shore added two of her own, while Tess Wardle, Camila Schafer and Jade Wentz Fitzgerald added one apiece.

The Gauchos (13-15, 2-3) struck first in the match, though a back handed shot by LBSU’s Virginia Smith tied the score at 1-1. Shortly after, UCSB’s Taylor Shore battled through defenders to sneak in a score from the left side, and Samantha Murphy scored on a rocket from the same side putting the Gauchos up 3-1 going into the second quarter.

In the second, Murphy scored her second goal of the match followed by another goal from freshman Camila Schafer. UCSB took a 5-1 lead into halftime and looked strong, but the 49ers would make things interesting in the second half.

LBSU’s Christina Kotsia – who scored four goals for the 49ers – found the back of the net about a minute into the half. Roughly 20 seconds later, Murphy scored for the Gauchos to put them back up by four.

Long Beach State (16-13, 1-4) then scored three consecutive goals to bring itself within one heading into the final quarter of play.

In her final home match, senior Jade Wentz Fitzgerald scored from the left side roughly two minutes into the fourth, giving the Gauchos a two-point advantage and a little breathing room with five minutes to go.

LBSU’s Kotsia then scored her third goal of the match from deep center and Rachel Cretcher scored from the left side knotting the score up at seven apiece setting the stage for a dramatic finish.

In crunch time, Santa Barbara’s Taylor Shore took the reins as she battled herself right in front of the net and scored with roughly a minute to play in clinching the 8-7 win for the Gauchos.

With the win UCSB snaps a three game skid and heads into next weekend’s conference tournament at Hawai’i. The Gauchos will open tournament with fifth seeded UC Davis Friday, April 24 starting at 8:45 p.m.