The UC Irvine Women’s Soccer team was unable to put away the struggling UC Santa Barbara Gauchos as they tied 1-1 in double overtime on Oct. 5 at Anteater Stadium.
Unlike their loss in the season opener to Cal Poly SLO, the Anteaters (6-3-3, Big West 0-1-1) came out fired up and hungry for a win. UCSB (6-3-3) was nearly nonexistent on the field as the Anteaters dominated the game, despite numerous scoring opportunities in the game’s opening minutes.
It would not take Irvine long to put their dominance onto the scoreboard, as senior forward Hayley McNallan would put the Anteaters on top with a goal at the 13:49 mark, which Head Coach Marine Cano described as ‘one of the greatest goals I have ever seen.’
McNallan would start off the play with a long chip over the last defender, right on stride with freshman forward Britney Webster.
Webster streaked down the left side and fired a crossing pass across the Gaucho goalmouth. She would connect with fellow freshman forward Lauryn Birkenshaw, who sent a shot off the left post. The ball ricocheted back to McNallan, who then completed the play with a 15-yard shot that found the upper right part of the UCSB net.
‘I was expecting it,’ McNallan said about her rebound goal.
McNallan has the perfect mentality for a forward, and it shows in her statistics as she leads the team with six goals and 13 points on the season.
UCI would begin to slow the game down a little, and it was fairly uneventful for most of the first half.
But one defensive lapse allowed the Gauchos to undeservedly knot the score when UCSB freshman midfielder Darci Gwartz headed home a corner kick in the 38th minute past Anteater freshman goalkeeper Marissa Welliver. The teams left the field at halftime tied at 1-1.
The second half would show a more aggressive UC Santa Barbara side, but neither team would take control. Both of the squads appeared to be going though the motions and made for an uneventful second half.
Though UCI was still dominating the play, there were very few threatening attacks by either side and the game would go into overtime thanks to a great Welliver save in the 88th minute.
The exhausted Anteaters began to lag in the first 10 minutes of overtime and UCSB sensed this.
They began to go on the offensive, and had two great chances to put the game away with a sudden death goal. But a missed breakaway and a good save kept the game level through the first overtime.
With the final ten minutes to play, UCI turned their game up a notch. They showed more intensity, and the Gauchos’ fatigue became apparent.
Irvine nearly put the game away on a corner kick, but the Gauchos nearly returned the favor when junior forward Jennifer Borcich missed an open shot from 18 yards out.
Irvine’s frustration began to show when there was a bad collision and an exchange of words being had, leaving senior midfielder Caroline Kabe shaken up and senior midfielder Leah Dawson with a yellow card.
Though UCI dominated the majority of the match, the double overtime game would end in a tie.
Despite the disappointing result, Cano was satisfied with the girls’ efforts for the most part.
‘I thought we played well today. UCSB is a good team, big and strong,’ Cano said. ‘Right now we have two or three goal scorers and that’s not enough.
‘With only one point out of a possible six in our first two home games, I have to scratch my head.’