The first half of the game was a battle from one end of the field to the other. The Anteaters came out strong, connecting passes up the pitch and putting pressure on the goal. Long balls were sent up to forward Tanya Taylor, who made runs up the right side, often out-pacing Fullerton defenders as well as her own teammates.
“We look for her [Taylor] to get in behind,” said Head Coach Scott Juniper. “She’s been making good decisions.”
‘Eater defense stayed strong, preventing opposing passes from connecting and making good clearances.
The game got dicey in the 26th minute when the Fullerton Titans got a cross into the box. UCI keeper Erica Quevedo tried to get a hand on the ball, but bobbled it, allowing pressuring forwards to maintain possession. With the net empty, Fullerton got one more shot off, but it was headed up over the net by defender Sarah Busby. The Anteaters responded in the 34th minute when a series of excellent passes up the right side allowed forward Kate Berrini to get a rocket shot from outside the box, missing just wide of the far left post.
“I think the game opened up,” Juniper said. “We were composed and didn’t panic.”
The ‘Eaters started the second half aggressively. In the 55th minute, Taylor barreled through two Fullerton defenders on the left flank and crossed to midfielder Milana Shabestari, who was wide open on the right side. Shabestari took one touch on the ball and then notched a goal for the Anteaters, hitting the ball far post, past the Fullerton keeper.
“When I run to the corners I look for a cross so someone can score,” said Taylor.
UCI continued to pressure the Titans for most of the second half. The Anteaters had several close opportunities on goal, doing well to penetrate the Fullerton defense. Berrini had a few painfully close shots, with one skimming just off the top post in the 68th minute.
The Fullerton players were fully frustrated at this stage of the game, with very few opportunities on goal.
The ‘Eaters had a momentary breakdown in the 76th minute, allowing the Titans to gain possession down the field. Fullerton forward Janae Deas hit a good ball into the box, where it was deflected by an Irvine player into the net.
“It was an unlucky own-goal,” Taylor said. “It’s just unfortunate when they get opportunities like that.”
Two minutes later, in the 78th minute, Fullerton scored again when Titan midfielder Christina Murillo capitalized on Anteater confusion inside the box.
The Anteaters regained a little bit of their momentum back after going down the two goals, but was not able to gain on other opportunities on goal.
“It’s one of those games,” Juniper said, “where you play well and lose.”
The Anteaters have their final home game scheduled on against Cal State Northridge Oct. 23.
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