UCSB women’s soccer kicks off season with Westmont

Sara Feder - UCSB Soccer

UCSB junior Sara Feder is the top returning scorer for the Gauchos. (Presidio Sports Photo)

The UCSB women’s soccer team will preview its 2015 season with a pair of home exhibition matches this weekend. The Gauchos will host their neighbor from Montecito, Westmont College, in their annual match on Thursday. Two nights later, they will play Loyola Marymount in a friendly. Both contests will kick-off at 7:00 p.m.

UCSB will welcome back its top three scorers from last season. Senior Angelisa Cortez and junior Sara Feder each had five goals and three assists for 13 points in 2014, sharing leading scorer honors. Junior Dakota Griggs, who had three goals and three assists for nine points, third on the team, is also back. Feder is battling injuries and, as a precaution, will not play in either exhibition game. In all, the Gauchos return players who scored 24 of their 32 goals last year.

In addition to returning its top three scorers from 2014, UCSB also returns its starting goalkeeper of the last two seasons, senior Beth Ritter. Despite injuries, Ritter played in and started 18 of the team’s 19 matches last season, finishing with a 1.27 goals against average, five shutouts and a save percentage of .676. In two seasons as a starter, Ritter has a goals against average of 1.04, 13 shutouts and a save percentage of .750.

The Gauchos have several other starters returning for the 2015 season. Sophomore Chace Schornstein should be one of the team’s leaders in the midfield. In 2014 Schornstein had two goals and an assist for five points and, following the season, was named to the Big West All-Freshman Team. Senior defender Savannah Francis, junior defender Sydney Fuertes and sophomore defender Kate Shoemaker will give UCSB an experienced back line. Francis had two goals and an assist as a junior, while Shoemaker had four assists and Fuertes had a goal.

Santa Barbara adds several players who should have an immediate impact and at the top of the list are Mallory Hromatko, who can play both forward and midfield, and midfielder Maddie Gibson. Hromatko was rated as a 4-star recruit by Top Drawer Soccer, is one of the team’s most dynamic players.  As a high school player at Danville’s Monte Vista High School, she scored 38 goals and added 27 assists and was a two-time CIF North Coast Section Player of the Year. Gibson, Hromatko’s teammate at Monte Vista, can play either attacking or holding center midfield. She is a technical and intelligent player who can score goals or create with her service.

UCSB will open the regular season on Friday, Aug. 21 when it travels to St. Mary’s College. The game against the Gaels will be the first of a two-game Bay Area swing. The Gauchos will play at San Francisco on Sunday, Aug. 23 and five days later, they open their home schedule with a 5:00 p.m. game on Aug. 28 against San Jose State. Some of the other games highlights of UCSB’s 2015 home schedule include Texas (Sept. 4), Montana (Sept. 18), Dayton (Sept. 20), Long Beach State (Oct. 11), Cal Poly (Oct. 15) and UC Irvine (Oct. 25).