UC Santa Barbara, Lindenwood Release 2011 Schedules

Two of last spring's top 5 USL WDIA teams have released their schedules for 2011. UC Santa Barbara (#4 in the final poll and #5 in the computer ratings in 2010) and Lindenwood University (#2/#4 in 2010) will both play challenging schedules again this year.

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Santa Barbara, CA - UCSB Women's Lacrosse released their 2011 schedule, and it is the most challenging in the recent history of the program. The Gauchos will face 13 of the top 15 teams in the country that play in the Intercollegiate Associates Division of U.S. Lacrosse. That's what it looks like this early, anyway, based on how teams finished in the final 2010 U.S. Lacrosse WDIA Poll.

UCSB is slated to play the numerous teams ranked last season. The Gauchos were 4th ranked at the end of the regular season themselves in 2010 and the only Top 15 team they won't be playing in 2011 is University of Georgia, #11 last year. Additionally, their schedule pits them against the two most recent National Champions on the road. The Gauchos will face 2010 national champion Colorado State and 2009 national champion Virginia Tech at the Rocky Mountain Shootout. UCSB takes on the Rams and the Hokies on a monsterous double header day Saturday, April 2nd.

UCSB had the toughest schedule in the WDIA last year based on the SOS Index maintained by LaxPower. That was with 9 battles against Top 15 clubs in the regular season and another 5 contests against Top 15 teams in the post-season. The 2011 schedule with 13 regular season tilts against Top 15 teams will certainly keep the Gauchos at or near the top of the strength of schedule index again.

The schedule this year is more extreme than usual because UCSB is heading to Fort Collins, Colorado for the Rocky Mountain Shootout April 1st - 3rd. The annual event is hosted by Colorado State and pits the Gauchos against perennial Top 10 teams BYU, CSU, VA Tech and CU in a three day span at altitude. In order, based on final 2010 rankings, UCSB will play the 6th ranked Cougars on Friday, the 9th ranked but eventual national champion Rams and the 7th ranked Hokies on Saturday and the 8th ranked Buffalos on their home field on Sunday. Colorado State knocked the Gauchos out of the national championship hunt last year with an 8-7 win over UCSB in the national quarterfinals.

It would be tough to find a similar stretch of games as competitive as these anywhere on any team's schedule. That is, unless you look at another string of games UCSB will be playing the first week of March. During that stretch the Gauchos will play at 2010 3rd ranked UC Davis on March 5th, at 2010 top ranked Santa Clara on March 6th and then host 2010 5th ranked Cal Poly SLO on March 12th. UCSB plays a weekday home game against unranked USC on Wednesday, March 9th, in the middle of that run as well. The Gauchos play in the highest rated college-club conference in the country in the Western Women's Lacrosse League. In some ways they don't need to play even half as many ranked non-conference opponents as they are this year. But they are going to do it anyway.

"It is easy to bottom line it," said 4th year head coach Paul Ramsey when asked if the schedule might be too ambitious. I saw what we had during fall ball and decided this group can handle it."

The Gauchos may or may not run the table with this schedule but that's not the focus. It's the post-season and overcoming the mid to late round eliminations of recent years that are at the forethought of everyone in the UCSB program. It's been either a national semifinal or quarterfinal loss for the Gauchos too many times. The stumping covers two coaching eras of loaded and talented teams.

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