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Gauchos Fall 12-6 to Santa Clara in WWLL Championship

Box Score

Bookmark and Share Printer Friendly Apr. 18, 2010

UCSB Versus Santa Clara in WWLL Championship GameLos Angeles, CA - Fifth ranked UCSB made a game of it in the first half against first ranked Santa Clara but was unable to get much going in the second half of the WWLL Championship game at UCLA. The Broncos won 12-6 to earn their first WWLL Championship since the league started conducting one in 1991. It would have been the fifth championship overall for UCSB and third in a row in recent history.

After falling behind 3-0 in the first 12 minutes of play the Gauchos rallied to tie it at 3-3 in a quick 3 minute flurry of possession and offense. Despite Santa Clara looking like they very much deserve the top spot in all the land UCSB was in the game and looking deserving themselves. With 12 minutes remaining in the first half it was all even with the Gauchos having climbed back into it.

After 6 more minutes of great lacrosse on the part of both teams the UCSB defense double teamed the ball and checked it out onto the ground in front of the Gaucho goal. With a swarm of UCSB defenders around her Santa Clara's Krista Shaw (Denver, CO) picked up the loose ball that the UCSB defense had forced to the ground and scored with it to put the Broncos up 4-3. It was a play that buoyed the Santa Clara team like almost no other play in the game. The Broncos erupted when Shaw scored the goal.

Two minutes later UCSB freshman Katie Mitchell (Lafyatte, CA) scored solo on a free position shot after a foul. It was 4-4 at 4:59 remaining in the first and UCSB also went crazy with enthusiasm for the goal in what seemed as lifting for UCSB as the Shaw play was for Santa Clara. The rest of the first half was scoreless against good defense and goal keeper saves.

The score that put UCSB at 4-4 with the Broncos was Mitchell's third goal of the game and eventually the midfielder finished tied on high scoring honors with two Santa Clara players at four goals on the game. Shaw had 4 goals and teammate Gracie Binder  (Seattle, WA) had 4 goals. Shaw's alert scoop and shoot play late in the first half started her off on scoring. She'd been scoreless up until that point, over the first 23 minutes.

"It was a great comeback to get it tied up against the #1 team in the country like that in the first half," said UCSB head coach Paul Ramsey. 

Still, Ramsey thinks that a ground ball in the defensive end, instead of a Shaw scoop and shoot goal, and a transition out to the eventual Mitchell goal would have put UCSB up 4-3 going into halftime and could have been the turning point in the game.

"We can't dwell on a mistake like not picking up that particular ground ball but we can learn from it and refocus on the basic fundamental of getting our stick under the ball and running through it to pick it up for ourselves, added Ramsey."

"No bunting it to someone, no scraping it to some other place on the field to chase it and no premature stick checking, just going for the ball and picking it up."

UCSB Versus Santa Clara in WWLL Championship GameUCSB won the first draw of the second half but turned it over and the Broncos were off to the races. More turnovers for the Gauchos equaled a slow start at the beginning of the second half and it was too much for the Gauchos to overcome. Santa Clara was too efficient with the gifts presented to them and in the first ten minutes of the second half they converted every UCSB turnover into a Santa Clara goal. The Broncos scored 8 of the first 9 goals of the second half on the way to outscoring UCSB 8-2 to win the whole thing 12-6. The Broncos dashed the UCSB hopes for a three-peat with their victory. UCSB won the WWLL Championship in 2008 and 2009.

"We knew going into this game we needed to be smart lacrosse players and have the ball for at least 35 of the 60 minutes of play," commented Ramsey.

"We didn't need to stall ball and play for a 3-2 win but we did need to keep it out of their sticks for much longer than we did and play for an 8-7 or a 9-8 win," he continued.

Sophomore goalie Jeni Centner (Tustin, CA) finished with 11 saves but Santa Clara had the ball for too much of the game for UCSB to see the success they wanted. Mitchell was a force for the Gauchos in the midfield. To go along with her 4 goals the freshman also snared an amazing 10 ground balls and 3 draw controls. As if that wasn't enough she was flying all over the place on defense and also caused 5 turnovers. That was fantastic effort on her part.

However, the discipline to stay with their game plan for the weekend was missing for 5th ranked UCSB in this championship game with Santa Clara. The Gauchos executed it against 16th ranked Arizona State in the quarterfinals and won 12-8 when it looked like they could have fastbreaked all game against the overmatched Sun Devils. Then UCSB stuck to the plan in a fantastic upset of 3rd ranked Cal Poly SLO and won 10-9 in the semifinals. This helped them beat a team that two weeks ago had beaten them 21-9.

"Our plan for the weekend was to get the ball behind the goal and settle into our offense after full field clears but ride hard and fastbreak to goal on take-aways in their half of the field," said Ramsey much later after the game.

"We did it for two games and we got great rest during play and we were very efficient but somehow we lost track of that in the championship game."

Indeed even during the first half when UCSB tied Santa Clara 4-4 it took an extreme amount of effort when the Gauchos could have made it much easier on themselves by hanging onto the ball even just a little longer each possession.

"Only another 30 seconds of possession on offense each time we had it adds up to 5 or 6 minutes easy for the entire game," summarized Ramsey.  "And any one goal we get in settled offense tends to equal a goal the other team doesn't get."

"It's not as true of fastbreak goals because it puts the ball back to a 50/50 situation more quickly and that's why against a higher rated team a balance of settled offense goals during possession versus fastbreak goals are so much more valuable."

Following that theory UCSB only needed three settled offense goals off possession to counter three of Santa Clara's goals and be looking at a 9-9 game at the end of 60 minutes. Or, maybe the 9-8 type of game Ramsey mentioned earlier. The plan worked for UCSB against Cal Poly SLO who had beaten them by 12 goals in a regular season game on April 3rd and the game plan result was a 10-9 win for UCSB in the semifinals. Now the Gauchos look to make it work the next four games they play in order to win a national championship.

"Yes, we will be talking about it and drilling it during meetings and practices and charting it during our games from here on out and everyone on the team will think it's the only style of lacrosse in the entire world by the time we get to Nationals," concluded Ramsey.

The Gauchos dropped to 13-3 overall and wait for word on their hopes of continuing post-season play when the WDIA releases invitations for at-large spots in the WDIA National Championship Tournament. The event is in Scottsdale, Arizona May 5th - 8th. Santa Clara improved to 18-1 overall and earned the WWLL automatic qualifier spot into the WDIA Tournament. The Broncos seem a lock for the number one seed.

UCSB lost 11-12 to Santa Clara on March 6th so the Gauchos know they can play with them. Both teams are likely to see each other at the national championship tournament so UCSB has some motivation to prepare themselves to be in a better situation with the ball the next time they play.

Other Media:

WWLL Championship Game Lacrosse Magazine On-Line Article

WWLL Championships Live Blog


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