Gauchos, Mustangs Share Spoils in Regular Season Finale

Freshman midfielder Hannah Wendelken celebrates her 46th minute goal with her teammates. The Gauchos drew 1-1 with the Mustangs at the Alex G. Spanos Stadium in San Luis Obispo. (Photo courtesy of Brian Edwards)
Freshman midfielder Hannah Wendelken celebrates her 46th minute goal with her teammates. The Gauchos drew 1-1 with the Mustangs at the Alex G. Spanos Stadium in San Luis Obispo. (Photo courtesy of Brian Edwards)

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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos women's soccer team (12-6-1, 5-2-1 Big West) ended their regular season slate with a double overtime draw against fierce rivals Cal Poly (2-12-5, 2-4-2 Big West) on Sunday afternoon at the Alex G. Spanos Stadium.

Freshman midfielder Hannah Wendelken scored her first career goal to put the Gauchos in the driver's seat in the 46th minute, but the lead was short-lived as Cal Poly forward Mackenzie George scored three minutes later to level the scoreline.

The Gauchos outshot the Mustangs in both halves of regulation, with the first four in the opening 15 minutes forcing Cal Poly goalkeeper Sophia Brown to make a pair of saves.

As the game progressed, Cal Poly found more success in their buildup play and began to deliver some dangerous balls into UCSB's defensive third.

In the 21st minute, the ball made its way into the UCSB penalty area and bounced around between both teams before the Gauchos did just enough to clear the ball away. Just a few short moments later, Mustang substitute Brooke Rubinstein had the ball at her feet on the right wing and cut inside to take a shot that narrowly missed the upper left corner of goal.

The Mustangs were creating danger through their set piece delivery as well, with a 25th minute corner kick from defender Stephanie Magellan finding the head of fellow defender Ava McCray, whose effort was tipped over the crossbar by UCSB junior goalkeeper Hanna DeWeese.

For the third straight game, the Gauchos were involved in a match that was tied 0-0 at the half.

However, the Gauchos have developed a penchant throughout the season for taking care of business and getting themselves on the board in the second act of regulation.

This afternoon, it didn't take long for 20th-season Head Coach Paul Stumpf's halftime team talk to pay dividends.

Less than two minutes after the break, freshman attacker Jessica Wright found herself parallel to the right post with her back to goal in the Cal Poly penalty area surrounded by Mustang defenders before she played a backwards pass to junior forward Katherine Sheehy, who cut inside and sought out an open Wendelken at the left post, where she snuck the ball under Brown to give UCSB a dream start to the second half.

The Gauchos would hold their lead for just short of three minutes, as Mustang midfielder Sydney Knauer combined with George at midfield on a quick give-and-go that led to George running through the UCSB backline towards the right side of the box and subsequently beating DeWeese at her near post with a right-footed shot.

The game did not give way to a go-ahead goal in the second half, though Wright and junior forward Shaelan Murison each had shots saved by Brown.

The Gauchos were outshot in both periods of overtime and they nearly paid the price in the 109th minute when midfielder Kelly Kessloff fired a shot from 40 yards out towards the UCSB goal, which DeWeese parried at full stretch into the path of defender Ashley Kirchick, who tapped the ball in at the near post but was flagged offside by the assistant referee.

Entering the day, the Gauchos needed either a win or a combination of a draw and a Long Beach State loss to win their first Big West regular season title since 2015. While the Gauchos got a point out of their draw with the Mustangs, Long Beach went on to defeat CSUN 3-1 to leapfrog UCSB in the table and claim the regular season crown.

The Gauchos travel to Anteater Stadium in Irvine, Calif. for their Big West Tournament semifinal match against UC Irvine on Thursday, with kickoff set for approximately 7:30 p.m. The game will be livestreamed on WatchESPN.