With a victory over Long Beach State and some help from fellow Big West Conference teams, the UC Irvine women’s soccer team qualified for the Big West Conference Tournament.
It was the first time the Anteaters qualified for the Big West Tournament since 2003.
‘The team is buzzing right now and there is a quiet confidence and a belief that we can beat anyone. I could see in the team, before the game, that they were particularly up for this one, though and I think it showed from the first whistle. We don’t get carried away and while we were certainly excited to win the game we don’t spend too long reflecting on a game before we get our minds on the next opponent,’ said Coach Scott Juniper.
The UCI women’s soccer team improved its record to 10-6-2 (4-2-1) by defeating Long Beach State 1-0 on Tuesday night at Anteater Stadium in a match that was rescheduled because of the fires that swept through Southern California.
The Anteaters also lost to Cal State Fullerton, which is at the top of the Big West standings, 1-0 on Thursday night at Titan Stadium.
The win against the Beach was the story of the season for the Lady Anteaters. The win signified a turnaround from last year and was telling of just how far they have come.
‘I am thrilled for the players because they are seeing their hard work payoff. As a team we have known for a long time that we can compete at the top of the Big West and we have proved a lot of people wrong by getting to the conference tournament,’ Juniper said. These players succeed every day at practice by bringing their very best and the wins on the field are a reflection of all that hard work.’
Though the season is still alive, and the Anteaters still have a shot at winning the tournament, the win over Long Beach, our arch-rival and the second-ranked team in the Big West, was an immense confidence booster and a tremendous step forward for the program.
The only goal in the match came in the 36th minute, when senior Kim Conlan caught the Long Beach State keeper off her line and blasted the ball from 40 yards out to give UCI the 1-0 lead.
The goal proved to be the decider, as the Anteater defense shut down the 49er offense for the entire game.
Freshman keeper Danielle de Seriere pulled some late-game heroics when she saved a shot by Hayley Bolt with only 24 seconds remaining.
De Seriere had three saves in the match as she earned her eighth shutout of the season.
The win over Long Beach State gives UCI a 9-7 lead in the Black and Blue rivalry series between the two schools.
On Sunday, the Anteaters shutout UC Riverside 2-0 to end their regular season with an impressive 11-6-2 overall record (5-2-1 Big West).
Hopefully, the shutout will provide UCI with a burst of momentum for Friday’s tournament.
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