By MICHAEL JORGENSON
UCSB SPORTS WRITER
Three members of the UCSB women’s soccer team have earned conference accolades, with senior defender Emma Vanderhyden being named to the All-Big West First Team, the league announced this week.
Also receiving recognition for their efforts in a campaign that recently saw UCSB qualify for the Big West Tournament in the final minute of the regular season were a pair of freshmen in defender/midfielder O’Callahan Liu (Honorable Mention) and defender Alyssa O’Brien (All-Freshman).
Vanderhyden played a huge role in the Gauchos’ push for the postseason, taking on more of an offensive workload as the season progressed. After putting up just four shots with no goals or assists over the first eight games of her senior season, she would start filling up the box score when her team needed it most.
The Murrieta native ended the regular season with team-highs in goals (3), assists (4), points (10) and game-winners (2). All of that production came over the course of UCSB’s final 11 contests, a stretch which saw the Gauchos go 7-3-1 as they consistently remained near the top of the Big West standings.
She was also named the Big West Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 11 following a week in which she scored a goal and helped anchor the Gaucho defense to an extended shutout of opposing teams that lasted over seven hours of game time. Her assist on O’Callahan Liu’s equalizer in UCSB’s final regular season match at Long Beach State started the crucial comeback that landed the Gauchos in the postseason.
Speaking of Liu, the freshman out of Cardinal Newman High School earns an All-Big West Honorable Mention three days after putting away her lone goal of the season. She is one of four Gauchos to play in every game so far this season, earning a start in all but one of UCSB’s seven shutouts.
Rounding out the Gaucho award recipients is All-Freshman Teamer Alyssa O’Brien, who ranked third among the Gauchos with six points (2 goals, 2 assists). She assisted on UCSB’s only goal in a 1-0 road win at UC Davis on Sept. 30 which started the Gauchos’ longest unbeaten streak this season of five games. Her goal against CSUN on Oct. 7 sealed a 2-0 victory that helped start a three-game win streak – another season-best run.
No. 4 seed UCSB will face tournament host and No. 1 seed UC Irvine in the Big West Tournament semifinals tonight. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Anteater Stadium.
The winner will play in the championship game at 1 p.m. Sunday.