The UC Irvine women’s soccer team lost their Big West opener 1-0 against the University of the Pacific on Friday at Anteater Stadium. The loss brings their overall record to an even 6-6.
The Anteaters fell behind early and could not muster up much offense in the second half. They were fortunate enough to only allow one goal on the loss.
The ‘Eaters were lackluster from the starting whistle. Pacific was able to dribble right through the midfield uncontested, and the defense had to scramble just to clear the ball. The Anteaters’ disorganization allowed Pacific to maintain possession and in the fourth minute, Pacific forward Laura King was able to capitalize off a misplayed ball by UCI defense.
The ball was rarely out of the ‘Eaters’ half of the field for the duration of the first half.
“We talked about how to start games, which we did badly,” said Scott Juniper, head coach for the Anteaters. “We haven’t been starting very well.”
It took the team well into the first half to get into the game. Even when the Anteaters got better control of the ball, they still weren’t able to take advantage of the opportunities they created. Near the end of the first half, the ‘Eaters were pressuring to score, when Irvine forward Tanya Taylor took advantage of a blunder by the Pacific defense to get a good shot off inside the box. However, an excellent diving save by Pacific keeper Amanda McNab prevented the equalizer.
The Anteaters did much better in the second half, with more passes connecting and controlling the tempo. However, the Pacific defense remained tight throughout the half, only giving the ‘Eaters a few really good opportunities on goal.
“[Pacific] got everybody behind the ball,” Juniper said. “We tried to stretch side to side; they just defended well.”
At the start of the half, senior midfielder Rachel Flemming worked the ball upfield and got a pass off to forward Taylor. Taylor played the ball in the box and tried to take a shot, but appeared to be taken down by Pacific defense, leading to great uproar from the Irvine crowd for a penalty kick, but resulting in the referee denying the PK.
The game continued with the ‘Eaters putting pressure on the Pacific defense, but not being able to capitalize on opportunities.
“They came out harder than us,” said Flemming. “They pressed hard and we couldn’t get a shot off.”
Pacific did have opportunities to score again, but two saves by Irvine keeper Danielle de Seriere kept the deficit at one. In the 67th minute, Pacific had the ball in the left side of the box and took a shot, which de Seriere blocked with a dive to the inside post, but allowed the ball to deflect back to Pacific. De Seriere had trouble getting back up, but managed to block the rebound.
The Anteaters stepped up in the second half and matched Pacific in number of shots, corner kicks and saves. If it hadn’t been for the weak start at the first half, the game probably would have ended in a tie at the end of regulation time.
It was a hard-fought game for the Anteaters and the Anteaters are going to have to be ready for every upcoming conference game because the Big West competition is stiff.
UCI (7-6) defeated UC Davis 1-0 on Sunday at Anteater Stadium. Senior Rachel Flemming scored her first career goal in the 26th minute to provide UCI the only goal it needed in the conference win.
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