UCSB Gets Speedier With Class of 2017 - Jun 7, 2013
Santa Barbara, CA - A twenty-one strong group of Californians and two more players from parts east make up the Class of 2017 for the UCSB women's lacrosse club. Mostly finalized is a class of talented recruits and walk-ons second in size only to the UCSB Class of 2016, which was comprised of twenty-five recruits and walk-ons.
A year ago at just about this time, the Gauchos were really wondering about the 2013 season, having finished the 2012 season graduating seven starting seniors. However, the Class of 2016 stepped right in, filled those spots and UCSB reloaded immediately instead of having to rebuild. The youngest UCSB team to advance to the post-season turned into the only UCSB team to advance to the national championship game and most of the members of that team can come back for the 2014 season.
Seventeen of the twenty Gauchos who made the trip to the WCLA National Championship Tournament are eligible to return for 2014. An additional fourteen players from the UCSB B Team that won the WWLL B Division Championship are eligible to return as well. Now, here comes more strength in numbers with twenty-one high school seniors and two transfers choosing UCSB. It's always a great time to be a Gaucho but now the interest in the University is off the chart.
"I love this group that is coming here," says UCSB head coach Paul Ramsey. "We've added some speed and our midfield is going to be scary next year."
Ramsey declined to comment any more than that about any particular individual players but wanted to be sure it's clear that by having A & B teams every Gaucho coming out has a chance to play. UCSB will even field a third team if numbers dictate it.
"The competition to be one of the players who makes our 'A' Team is about to intensify," added Ramsey. "It's going to make us even better on both teams."
Colorado Springs, CO - UCSB advanced to the national championship game for the first time but couldn't pull off a fourth consecutive post-season upset and Colorado State won their fourth title in six years. To get to the title game the 11th seeded Gauchos upset the 6th seeded club from University of Virginia, 3rd seeded University of Georgia and 2nd seeded Brigham Young University. The run became the story of the tournament and other teams started turning up to watch UCSB to see what would happen in their next game. The Cinderella run ended in the final, though, as Colorado State made it happen for themselves. The Rams, with seven senior starters leading the way, were the top ranked team in the country from start to finish this season. They finished 22-0 overall and they are the national champions.
The young UCSB team of 9 freshmen, 3 sophomores, 3 juniors and 4 seniors finished the season with a 16-8 overall record and a Top Ten national ranking in a rebuilding year. The Gauchos had graduated seven senior starters from the 2012 season. After being eliminated in the semifinals of conference play in the Western Women's Lacrosse League (WWLL) championship tournament the Gauchos received the last at-large spot in the WCLA National Championship Tournament. UCSB then pulled it together for their extended post-season with a stretch of ten tough practices and stormed into the national championship tournament in a big way. They upset Virginia 13-7 and toppled Georgia 11-6 in two decisive games. In the national semifinals the Gauchos faced a 5 goal deficit at halftime but scored two quick ones to open the second half, gave themselves life, and then stole the game from BYU, climbing out of a big hole to win 12-11.
In the national championship game it was close for the first 12 minutes with Colorado State up 3-2. After the Rams scored three straight to go up 6-2 UCSB senior Katie Mitchell (Lafayette, CA) scored unassisted to get the Gauchos to within three goals. Based on their ability to go on runs a 3-6 score seemed to be within striking distance for upstart UCSB. Keep it close until halftime and regroup for the second half and the Gauchos would have a chance. However, to help themselves avoid dealing with any such UCSB heroics the experienced Colorado State team increased their intensity, owned the final ten minutes of the half, scored four unanswered goals and led 10-3 at half-time.
In the first minute of the second half Katie Hubbert (San Jose, CA) scored unassisted for UCSB to get them within 6 goals with more than 28 minutes left to play. It looked for a few moments that the Gauchos might make a run at it just like the day before against BYU. The Rams, however, had the benefit of watching the entire UCSB upset of the Cougars, knew what the Gauchos were capable of doing and didn't let it happen. Four minutes later CSU senior midfielder Hayley Bernstein (Colorado Springs, CO) scored the third of her five goals on a free position shot. Bernstein, the WCLA National Player Of The Year, then scored two of the next three goals of the game as the Rams controlled the play well enough to limit UCSB to that one goal by Hubbert in the second half.
UCSB senior goalie Megan Hughes (Santa Ana, CA) finished with 8 saves in the national championship game and 34 saves across all four games played in the tournament. Hughes was named Most Outstanding Goalie of the tournament by a panel of U.S. Lacrosse media staff. Teammate Cailan Howey (Charlotte, NC) was named Most Outstanding Defender. Both were also selected for the All-Tournament Team as was teammate Lindsay Alex (Santa Ana, CA).
Most Outstanding Players
Colorado Springs, CO - It did not look promising. The Gauchos huddled up at halftime glancing over at a scoreboard that showed their opponent leading by 5 goals in their semifinal of the WCLA National Championship Tournament. UCSB was not playing well and the 8-3 lead held by 2nd seeded Brigham Young could very well have been insurmountable. It was not.
The 11th seeded Gauchos came back on the Cougars with two quick goals to start the second half that rattled BYU into calling a time-out with 28:45 left in the game. Steadily the young UCSB team chipped away at the lead to eventually tie it 10-10. The Gauchos fitness looked superior in the second half and UCSB started winning the ground balls, getting more draw controls and outrunning the Cougars. The Gauchos took the lead at 11-10 only to see BYU respond to tie the game at 11-11. The Gauchos got the game winner with under 20 seconds left that proved to be all they needed.
A BYU possession on the draw had the door open for another tie but the UCSB defense clamped down and the Cougars did not get a shot. The Gauchos stepped up on defense in the second half and held BYU to three goals to enable the offense to work their miraculous comeback. UCSB outscored the Cougars 9-3 in the second half.
For the first time in program history UCSB has advanced to the national championship game. The Gauchos will play Colorado State at 2:30pm Mountain Time at the El Pomar Sports Complex. The Rams are 21-0 and top ranked in all the land. Tune in to TooTall.com to catch the action.
UCSB improved to 16-7 overall while BYU dropped to 18-6. The Gauchos played Colorado State close on February 16th in a 9-7 loss at the Santa Barbara Shootout. In that game UCSB fell behind 6-2 at halftime before rallying to pull within 2 goals before they ran out of time to complete a comeback.
UCSB Topples Third Seeded Georgia In 11-6 Upset - May 9, 2013
Colorado Springs, CO - UCSB stayed on the upset path with an 11-6 win over 3rd seeded University of Georgia. It was a WCLA National Championship Tournament quarterfinal and the 11th seeded Gauchos advanced to the semifinals. UCSB will face Brigham Young on Friday in a 5:30pm Mountain Time game at the El Pomar Sports Complex in Colorado Springs. The game will be live-streamed on TooTall.com.
The Gauchos led the entire way, starting with an assisted goal by junior Blair Evans (Salinas, CA) on a pass from sophomore Lindsay Alex (Santa Ana, CA) just over two minutes into the game. UCSB scored the final goal of the game when freshman Nicole Rockwell (San Jose, CA) found freshman Claudia Hammerschmidt (Armonk, NY) open on the doorstep with 56 seconds remaining in the game on an extra player offense play. Hammerschmidt buried the lay-up and punctuated the UCSB effort of an entire game.
Senior Katie Mitchell (Lafayette, CA) led all scorers with 4 goals. Mitchell scored an unassisted goal in the second half when she split a double team. The Gauchos were down a player after a penalty so Mitchell drew the double, split it, then put a nice spin move on the third defender before beating Georgia All-American and WCLA Goalie Of The Year Emily Seidel (Columbia, MD) with a low right corner placement shot. Alex led in points with 2 goals and 3 assists, one of her goals coming on a nice fake to move the goalie before shooting at the end of a fastbreak when Rockwell found her open in front of the net. Five UCSB players notched at least a goal.
Between that first goal scored early and the last goal, that will help define this young UCSB team coming alive in the post-season, the Gauchos played their best game of the year so far with an enthusiasm that stymied the higher rated Bulldogs. Georgia made it close early when they tied it 2-2 but from that point on UCSB steadily pulled away, leading 6-4 at halftime, 8-6 with 20 minutes remaining in the game and then eventually 11-6. When it came time to finish the game outworking the other team the Gauchos responded with a ride that was partially responsible for UCSB holding Georgia to only two goals in the second half. The Bulldogs didn't score after they got an unassisted goal just past five minutes into the second half. The Gauchos held them scoreless over the final 25 minutes of play. A big part of that was senior Megan Hughes (Santa Ana, CA) having a career day in front of the UCSB goal. Hughes, non-plussed this entire tournament so far, had 6 second half saves to turn away the Georiga shooters and finished with 9 saves in the game.
UCSB improved to 15-7 overall but more importantly advances to a national semifinal game. Georgia dropped to 16-4 overall with a five game winning streak broken by the Gauchos. UCSB will face BYU for the second time this season. The Gauchos held off a rallying Cougars team on February 14th to win 14-12 in Santa Barbara. BYU beat Santa Clara 18-6 in their quarterfinal game to advance to the semifinals. On the other side of the bracket Cal Poly SLO beat University of Texas 11-7 to advance to play Colorado State, 16-11 winners over University of Pittsburgh.
WCLA Semifinals, Friday May 10th:
3:00pm - Cal Poly SLO (4) vs. Colorado State (1).
Gauchos Upset 6th Ranked Virginia at WCLA Tournament - May 8, 2013
Colorado Springs, CO - UCSB upset the 6th ranked club from University of Virginia in a WCLA National Championship Tournament first round game at the El Pomar Sports Complex. As the weather took a turn from bad to worse the Gauchos kept clicking and built a 10-3 halftime lead before winning 13-7. UCSB advances to a national quarterfinal match-up with 3rd seeded University of Georgia. The two teams will meet for the second time in their history in a 1:30pm game on Thursday. That's Mountain Time and the game will be streamed live on TooTall.com.
From the start of warm-ups to the end of the first half the cold rain and wind affected play and passing but it was the snow collecting on the peaks of the not too distant mountain tops that reminded everyone they were playing lacrosse more than a mile high. Despite all that the ten minute halftime is the only thing that slowed down UCSB. The Cavaliers, who came into the game with a 14-3 overall record and riding a twelve game winning streak, looked a little stunned. The Gauchos outshot the Cavaliers 24-16 with 18 of the UCSB shots coming in the first half. The good news for the Gauchos, despite the second half slowdown, was they were 3 for 6 on shooting in that frame while doing their best to control the ball amid all the precipitation.
UCSB Gets Tenth Straight Post-Season Bid - Apr 23, 2013
Baltimore, MD - U.S. Lacrosse released invitations and pairings for the WCLA National Championship Tournament and UCSB has been included for the tenth straight time. The Gauchos received the eleven seed in the sixteen team tournament and will face the sixth seeded club from the University of Virginia in the first round. The two programs have never met. The event is May 8th - 11th at the El Pomar Sports Complex in Colorado Springs. Top ranked Colorado State (18-0 overall) received the number one seed.
There was some suspense toward the end of the season for the young UCSB squad unsure if they would qualify. The Gauchos returned only four starters from the 2012 team but battled through the program's usually tough national schedule anyway. The Gauchos played games against nationally ranked teams ten times this year. UCSB starts eight new faces and while things clicked often enough for the team to be ranked as high as fifth nationally at one point there were other times there was no clicking. A game with a nationally ranked opponent where past UCSB teams have succeeded was all of a sudden a tough match to get through. The Gauchos were 9-0 against unranked teams and 3-7 against ranked teams but oh so close in those ranked losses. Two games to ranked teams were 1 goal debits and another two games were only 2 goal setbacks, including a 9-7 loss to previously mentioned top ranked Colorado State.
Injuries in the middle part of the year prevented everyone from practicing and playing together, limiting the opportunity to improve as a team. The result was the Gauchos dropping as low as 9th in the country before finishing 8th ranked in the final regular season poll. That ranking was released before a WWLL Tournament where UCSB lost 14-8 in the semifinals to eventual champion Cal Poly SLO. The Gauchos did play the Mustangs closer than anyone else in that event as Cal Poly outscored Arizona 20-8 in their quarterfinal and thumped USC 20-7 in the final. If it seems unusual for those involved in a program to feel that finishing 8th in the national poll isn't up to snuff and they were unhappy over being unsure about an extended post-season then welcome to the UCSB standard.
For the first time in a while, perhaps, UCSB is just happy to be in the national championship tournament and in addition gets to play someone new rather than someone they've already played. With 8 automatic qualifier spots in the post-season and only 8 at-large spots getting into the WCLA Tournament wasn't a sure thing. Now that they're in, though, the Gauchos have a shot at performing well enough to turn heads the way an eleven seed advancing turns heads. UCSB had a close 9-7 game to the top-ranked and top-seeded Rams back on February 16th and have been one of the few teams in the country to play them that closely. Gauchos clicking together could get hot enough to see the Rams in the final.
Santa Barbara, CA - It was a lot closer this time but the UCSB B Team again beat the B Team from Cal Poly SLO for the WWLL B Division Championship. The outcome duplicated the 2012 result when the Gauchos beat the Mustangs for the title.
More to come.
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