Gauchos Drop Non-Conference Finale to Broncos

Junior goalkeeper Hanna DeWeese made three saves in the Gauchos' 2-0 loss to Santa Clara. (Photo by Evan Kokoska)
Junior goalkeeper Hanna DeWeese made three saves in the Gauchos' 2-0 loss to Santa Clara. (Photo by Evan Kokoska)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos women's soccer team (7-4-0) suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the No. 6 Santa Clara Broncos (9-1-1) on Sunday afternoon at Harder Stadium.

Santa Clara midfielder Skylar Smith scored her third goal of the year in the 14th minute after a cross from forward Maddy Gonzalez deflected into her path at the top of the six-yard box, where Smith curved her shot into the top right corner of the net to put the Broncos ahead.

The Gauchos have been fantastic this season about coming back from a deficit, and they showed their fight once again as they came close to leveling the match on several occasions. 

Just three minutes after the goal, sophomore attacking midfielder Christine Maurer took a shot that forced a save out of Bronco goalkeeper Melissa Lowder.

The pressure continued to mount on the visitors as the Gauchos took to tightly marking the Bronco midfielders and defenders in an attempt to close their space and force them to make mistakes.

In the 19th minute, UCSB's tactics worked in their favor as the Gauchos turned a Bronco turnover into a shot from senior right back Mallory Hromatko that rattled the crossbar.

Junior goalkeeper Hanna DeWeese also played her part in keeping the scoreline close, making a point-blank save on forward Kelsey Turnbow at the 26-minute mark. DeWeese would go on to make three saves throughout the game.

Junior forward Shaelan Murison was denied by Lowder on a header in the 39th minute in one of the last attacks of the first half.

The Broncos controlled the second half as they looked to both protect and extend their lead, but DeWeese made a save on forward Kelcie Hedge from close range in the 62nd minute to keep the score at 1-0.

Turnbow put the Gauchos' comeback bid in further jeopardy in the 72nd minute after she cut in to the right side of the UCSB penalty area from the right wing and unloaded a left-footed low driven effort that snuck past the near post to double the Broncos' advantage.

The Gauchos had seven shots in the match in total, but Maurer and Murison had the only two on target.

The Gauchos' next match will take place on Friday, September 28 as they open Big West Conference play at home versus the UC Davis Aggies. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.